‘Hits its Objective With Explosive Power,’ -Maverick in Top Gun.
Top Gun: Maverick has a better plot, better dialogue, and more stomach-churning aerial stunts than the 1986 original, according to Nicholas Barber.
In the 1980s, Top Gun was one of the most quintessentially 1980s movies. Air Force One, Tony Scott’s aerobatic male-bonding film, was a celebration of American military might as well as pricey gear and the burning of fossil fuels. (Is there a shift in the climate? What’s going on with the climate?) Moreover, it was the film that made Tom Cruise a celebrity. But circumstances have changed since 1986, so it was always going to be a hazardous business – to paraphrase another of Cruise’s 1980s classics – to bring him back as the US Navy’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell thus far into the 21st Century. No matter how hard they tried, The Matrix: Resurrections, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens could not live up to the decades-old blockbusters they were emulating.
To its credit, Top Gun: Maverick defies expectations. The film is directed by Joseph Kosinski (who also directed Tron: Legacy, another late 1980s sequel) and co-written by Christopher McQuarrie, who is also the director of Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol. A homage to Tony Scott, who passed away in 2012, finishes the film, and throughout, allusions are made to the people and events from the original 1986 film’s tagline and aircraft-carrier montage. Furthermore, the film is set at the Navy’s top flight school, or Top Gun, where a handful of “superhero-worthy” pilots, including Hangman (Glenn Powell) and Phoenix (Jason Sudeikis), all have superhero-worthy call signs (Monica Barbaro). Despite this, the new film outperforms the old one in every way possible. This is a better tale, the language is sharper and funnier, the relationships are more complex, and the aerial feats are more likely to make you sick. Actors can be seen flying about in the aircraft in several of the pictures. They may not be performing the actual flying, but they are definitely being hurled around at dizzying speeds. There will be a sense of disorientation for the audience as well.
High-altitude rollercoaster scenes devised by the directors will have you leaning back in your seat as though your own weight may drive aircraft over mountaintops they are skimming. The film creators have created. And once again, the scenes filmed for the second film are significantly better than those from the first. When I first met Tom in 1986, he had rotten teeth. Even though Pete hasn’t reached the rank of captain, the Navy’s dental insurance must be top notch.
Even though he claimed to be a Top Gun teacher in the original movie, he hasn’t spent much of the previous three decades in that capacity. As it turns out, his career as a test pilot has led him to work out of a hangar in the Mojave Desert, where he rides his motorcycle to another hangar every morning to fly the navy’s newest supersonic jet. While Ed Harris’s admiral is making some pointed remarks about the imminent demise of the jet pilot, the film’s script quickly discards this idea. We need to focus on more important matters. Uranium enrichment facility being constructed on “enemy” territory has been discovered by US satellites. Since the “enemy” is never named (as in the previous film), it’s much simpler to market this one overseas. Hidden in a valley between dagger-like mountains, this factory is protected by surface-to-air missiles and fifth-generation fighter fighters. However, it’s reasonable to presume that they’re much superior than the current generation of fighter planes. Top Gun’s best grads have been summoned back to refresh their dogfighting skills for the navy’s plot to blow up the facility.
It’s Pete’s responsibility to teach them the ropes. His former opponent Iceman (a heartbreaking cameo by Val Kilmer), now one of the film’s numerous admirals, orders him to do so. One thing is for sure: Pete will serve only as a mentor to the aspiring aviators. He has made it clear that he will not be participating in the operation. Not at all.
This is a far more compelling story than the one in the original Top Gun. When I was in college, I was simply a student, and my only ambition was to get an A in my class. The stakes are heightened in Top Gun: Maverick because we know that some of the characters are heading on a dangerous mission that they may not survive. Iceman’s sneering in the locker room was Pete’s greatest threat in Top Gun’s 1986 version, which also included a combat mission at the finale.
1 thought on “‘Hits its Objective With Explosive Power,’ -Maverick in Top Gun.”
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