Matthew Lickona 4 p.m., Feb. 16
Tom Cruise breaks out his best shit-eating grin (and accompanying bad-boyisms, mooning included) to play Great American Barry Seal for director Doug Liman. Good thing, too, since he winds up eating an awful lot of it: a lil’ cigar-smuggling while working as a commercial pilot leads to the CIA hooking him into taking reconnaissance pics of Central American commies, which leads to Pablo Escobar hooking him into smuggling drugs, which leads to the CIA hooking him into smuggling guns…you get the picture. What sees him through is his particular American greatness: a pure practicality, untainted by principle. As an ace pilot, he is “the gringo who always delivers.” But whomever’s stuff he’s hauling, he’s always in the service of Number One (plus maybe the wife and kids). The government is gonna get its stupid way, and the wicked are gonna rule the world; if you can’t change that, you may as well get rich off it. Sure, it’s risky business, but nobody lives forever. Liman takes a similarly practical approach to the filmmaking: the point here is not to depict Reagan-era corruption or cartel ruthlessness. The point is a wild ride akin to Barry’s own — you may as well enjoy it. 2017.