Top Gun Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick

Full disclosure, I did enjoy the fluffy emotions in 1986’s Top Gun, but couldn’t quite get behind the character of Pete Mitchell. An arrogant young lad, depicted as some sort of a sexy enigma – a privileged hero with a troubled past, nothing out of the ordinary, but the film did more to sell his invincibility than it did to get inside the character’s psyche. Fast forward 36 years, and we’re returning to that now iconic character to provide him with a more rounded sendoff, and an immensely wholesome one at that.

Maverick’s emotional baggage is far more visible in this sequel, making it easier to get behind him and his experience. The most exciting thing about the design of this story is how it builds upon the past by making him face someone who reminds him of himself from the past. Rooster is also a youngster who’d lost his father in the service, just like Maverick was back in the day, but now the latter has the perspective to guide him, protect him. There’s a promise involved as well, from Mav to Rooster’s mother, which only gets a subtle mention, but even a hammy flashback wouldn’t have been a problem in such a neatly packaged sweet of a film.

The satisfaction isn’t just in the emotions, but even the action sequences are an absolutely beautiful experience to sit through. The editing is impeccable, making air combat accessible along with delivering all the necessary tension. Tom Cruise’s persona adds another layer of excitement to the action, because you never know where and when he’ll push the edge, or how far he’ll go to escalate stakes. He’s a maverick in the true sense of the word. His introductory hypersonic flight ride in this film is a gloriously executed match of heart and tech.

The first film managed to leave a legacy behind, and this film furthers it by treating the characters and story with the respect they deserve. The measured writing comes through here, unlike the previous that heavily relied on the vibes and warmth of its aesthetics. I completely understand the overwhelming response to this film, because it does feel like a return to emotional basics for Hollywood, amidst the overload of corporate storytelling.

There’s explicit American nationalist imagery, but it doesn’t really influence the story in a major way, which is very much about the personal. Sure, it can be called propaganda for the army, but it’s also sensitive enough to not name an enemy state. I’m open to hearing how this angle could’ve been avoided, but at the same time this also just doesn’t seem to be the right film to pick on for the same.


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2 years ago

Completely enjoyed the film. Not that I expect it to win any awards or critics’ praise, but it was just an old-school experience of watching a top class action movie that had you personally invested the character’s journey. I doubt that there was anything that could be done to not ‘glorify’ the army. And I don’t particularly care either, because this was all about Maverick learning to let go, and not about the superiority of the US Army. The world could definitely do with a few more movies like this one.

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