Friday, June 3, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Return to a time when a movie could just be about planes and the men who fly them. Though a few decades late, Maverick is as good a sequel to Top Gun as I could ask for.

The opening sequence alone is worth the price of admission (at least at my local theater’s rates). Planes taxi and take off from a US Navy aircraft carrier as Highway to the Danger Zone blares in the background. We see details like the hand signals crewmen use to signal pilots. Thumbs-up means go, and the crewmen do it with a flourish. Machismo is alive and well.

The next sequence is about Tom Cruise AKA Maverick test-flying a secret warp 10 mach 10 experimental aircraft called Darkstar, which sounds very similar to Aurora. (Hey Lockheed, show us your blueprints!) This is where the movie starts to earn its drink and popcorn money.

The venerable Ed Harris plays the hardass admiral, and Val Kilmer reprises his role as Iceman, whose screen time is mercifully short yet still somehow feels too long. Then we meet the new young crew because of course a Hollywood egomaniac in his late 50s can’t take on Russia <whatever the red eagle insignia is supposed to be> alone.

True to the Top Gun tradition, “the enemy” is never named. Russia is okay with being Hollywood’s enemy. That too is a time-honored tradition. The thing is though, this movie isn’t about the emotional rollercoaster of geopolitics, it’s about planes and the men who fly them. A similar statement could be made about the Fast and Furious franchise, except both Top Gun movies are actually good movies so I think they’ve earned their simplicity.

This is the first big-budget Hollywood movie in a long while that I would strongly recommend. Come for the planes, stay for the Cruise, come for the Cruise, do whatever you want, but check it out.