Tom Cruise and Doug Liman to Re-team for 1980s Drug Trafficking Movie

By  · Published on January 15th, 2015

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Tom Cruise as a pilot in the 1980s? While we wait forever for Top Gun 2, perhaps a movie in development called Mena will quench our need for speed. Or maybe speed is not the appropriate drug to go with for this project, which will see Cruise playing a real-life cocaine trafficker and gun runner named Barry Seal if the talks reported by Deadline go through with success.

Previously, Ron Howard was set to direct the movie, but while it’s still housed at his Imagine Entertainment, the job is up for grabs and the likely hire is Doug Liman. That would make this an Edge of Tomorrow reunion, albeit one that doesn’t promise any of the laughs and sci-fi spectacle we got with that awesome 2014 action flick. Unlike this week’s other re-team announcement for the Gone Girl gang to remake Strangers on a Train, this one is not about a collaboration for more of the same.

Barry Seal was known for being on the heavy side, and that maybe means Cruise could gain weight for the role. Or wear a fat suit, either way. There’s also some dispute over his murder, the official responsible party being the Medellin drug cartel and the conspiracy theory version that says it was a hit by George H.W. Bush and Oliver North over the Iran-Contra affair. Whether the latter is hinted at or not will probably depend on how much Liman wants to become another Oliver Stone.

Still, Seal’s story is a heavy one, in which he began in the military and was involved with the CIA and David Ferrie, who you might remember was played by Joe Pesci in Stone’s JFK. Trying to learn more about Seal, I feel like I’m going down a rabbit hole like the one Costner navigates in that movie. Hopefully writer Gary Spinelli has found a way to make it all simpler or at least digestible through his spec script, which reportedly netted him about $1m.

If Liman does make Mena, which is named for the Arkansas town where Seal operated out of, his closest comparable movie so far might be Fair Game, which is about former CIA agent Valerie Plame and which was his lowest-grossing movie since his indie debut. With Cruise at his side, though, this one should do at least a little better at the box office.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.