Things to watch: Top Gun: Maverick

Title: Top Gun: Maverick

Describe this movie in one lethal weapon Quotation:

ROGER MURTAUGH: I’m getting too old for this shit.

Brief plot summary: The aging aviator assembles the aces, aims for the atomic zone.

Ranking using random items relevant to the movie: 3.5 Jerry Hathaway out of 5.

Click to enlarge TRISTAR PICTURES

Slogan : “Feel the need.”

Best Tagline: “It’s a small thermal exhaust port, just below the main port.”

Not-so-brief plot synopsis: Maverick is back, baby. Still a lieutenant and test pilot despite more than 30 years in the Navy, Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is given one last chance to stay airborne after taking a spin on a prototype scramjet: returning to “Top Gun “and train a new group of cutting-edge airmen for an urgent and possibly suicide mission. One problem: Said fliers include a “Rooster” (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s former reel Goose, who was killed while flying with him.

“Critical analysis: In the opening scenes of Top Gun: Maverick, USN Admiral “Hammer” Cain (Ed Harris, patriarchal in an unfriendly way to Tom Skerritt) formulates his orders in terms our protagonist can understand: the future is coming, and Maverick is not in it. not. Thing is, this statement could be as much about Cruise and the movie itself as it is about the Navy’s future drone/remote pilot reality.

Famous for avoiding streaming outings and CGI flight scenes, and insisting on doing his own stunts (despite not being allowed to fly a real F/A-18E/F, contrary to reports), Cruise is perhaps the last standing action man of the 80s in this regard. Admire him for his resolve or scoff at his zeal, the guy’s insistence on giving audiences that big-screen experience enhances our enjoyment of his action shows.

Director Joseph Kosinski (who previously worked with Cruise on Oversight) apes the fat beats of the original Superior gun skillfully enough. Our young stars – including “Hangman” (a smooth Glen Powell), “Phoenix” (Monica Barbaro), “Payback” (Jay Ellis) and “Coyote” (Greg Tarzan Davis) – learn to work as a team; there’s another terrible mustache (the rooster’s), another harrowing death, and another mostly shirtless sports match.

Click to enlarge Oh, don't be surprised.  - PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Unlike the original, however, the final mission is actually the catalyst for training, not the other way around. Maverick is brought in to teach this new batch of pilots to complete the death star race an attack on a uranium enrichment facility in … a country. The target nation has no name except that it is a “mountain rogue state” and has fifth generation fighter jets as well as F-14s.

Iran? Iran.

Another difference is the lack of Maverick’s original love interest, Charlie. Kelly McGillis was not invited back, presumably for the crime of aging like a normal human being. She is replaced by Jennifer Connelly as “Penny”. The two share a rich history that we know nothing about (is she the “Admiral’s daughter” Goose that the first film alludes to?) but which is explainable nonetheless given that it’s been 36 years since we we are not in this world.

maverick is, in just about every way*, superior to the original, largely thanks to flight footage. Cruise and company had to learn how to use IMAX cameras in the cockpit, with Kosinski having shot over 800 hours of film. The result is some of the most thrilling flight scenes ever filmed. An actual thematic objective doesn’t hurt either, and Cruise even has a chance to run.

Of course, this happens during the movie’s most ridiculous sequence.

maverick is empirically better than Superior gun, but that may be down to its star, who seems increasingly likely to have a real cinematic death wish on screen (a potential selling point). Like its predecessor, it thrives on military fetishism, asshole energy and the suspension of belief usually reserved for Liam Neeson’s latter-day fight scenes. Top Gun: Maverick is loud, chauvinistic and stupid, which is exactly the kind of summer movie America deserves.

* “Take My Breath Away” is a better song than “Hold My Hand”.

Top Gun: Maverick is in theaters today.

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