- Superlative Gun: Maverick
- Directed by
- Activeness, Drama
- 2h 11m
Every so frequently in “Top Gun: Maverick,” Pete Mitchell (that’s Bohemian) is summoned to a face-to-face with an admiral. Pete, after all these years in the Navy — more than 35, merely who’s counting — has stalled at the rank of captain. He’s 1 of the best fighter pilots e’er to accept wing, merely the U.S. military hierarchy can be a treacherous political concern, and Maverick is anything merely a politician. In the presence of a superior officer he is apt to salute, smirk and button his career into the middle of the tabular array like a stack of poker chips. He’s all in. Ever.
The start such meeting is with Rear Adm. Chester Cain, a weathered chunk of brass played past Ed Harris, who has an impressive in-movie flight record of his own. (Without “The Correct Stuff,” there would have been no “Top Gun.”) He seems to exist telling Pete that the game is over. Thanks to new technology, flyboys like him are all but obsolete.
Based on this scene, yous might recall that the picture is setting out to exist a meditation on American air ability in the age of drone warfare, just that will have to wait for the next sequel. Pete still has a chore to practice. A teaching job, officially, but nosotros’ll become to that. The conversation with Cain is non so much a red herring every bit a meta-commentary. Pete, as I’chiliad sure I don’t accept to tell you, is the avatar of Tom Cruise, and the central question posed past this picture show has less to practise with the necessity of combat pilots than with the relevance of moving-picture show stars. With all this cool new technology at hand — you tin can binge 37 episodes of Silicon Valley grifting without leaving your couch — do we really need guys, or movies, similar this?
“Top Gun: Bohemian,” directed by Joseph Kosinski (“Tron: Legacy”), answers in the affirmative with a confident, aggressive swagger that might look like overcompensation. Not that there is a hint of insecurity in Cruise’s performance — or in Maverick’due south. On the brink of 60, he notwithstanding projects the nimble, cocky, perennially boyish amuse that conquered the box function in the 1980s.
Back then — in Tony Scott’s “Top Gun” — Pete was a advised upstart striving to stand out amid the camaraderie and competition of the super-elite Top Gun program. He seduced the teacher Charlie (Kelly McGillis), locked horns with his aureate-male child nemesis, Iceman (Val Kilmer), and lost his best friend and wingman, Goose (Anthony Edwards). Ronald Reagan was president and the Cold War was in its florid concluding throes, but “Top Gun” wasn’t actually a combat movie. It was, at heart, a sports movie decked out in battle gear, almost a bunch of guys showboating, trash talking and trying to outdo one some other.
Times take changed somewhat. Pete is the instructor now, called back to the Miramar naval base to train a team of eager young fliers for an urgent, dangerous mission. The frat-house atmosphere of the ’80s has been toned downwards, and the pilots are a more various, less obnoxious bunch.
One advantage to the long gap between chapters is that the many credited screenwriters are free to make full in or get out blank equally much equally they want. In the last few decades, Pete has seen enough of gainsay — Bosnia and Iraq are both mentioned — and pursued an on-and-off romance with Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly). At present he finds her working at a bar about the base of operations and an old spark rekindles. She has a teenage daughter (Lyliana Wray) — Maverick is not the dad — and a globe-weary manner that matches Pete’s signature blend of pessimism and sentimentality.
Other reminders of the past include Rooster (Miles Teller), son of Goose, and Iceman himself, who has ascended to the rank of admiral and kept a protective eye on his quondam rival. Kilmer’south brief appearance has a special poignancy. Apart from the 2021 documentary “Val,” he hasn’t been onscreen much since losing his voice to throat cancer, and seeing him and Cruise in a placidity scene together is as sad and stirring as something from the Ballsy of Gilgamesh.
The first “Top Gun” unfolded confronting a properties of superpower conflict. There was a formidable — if more often than not offscreen — real-world adversary (the Soviet Matrimony, in case you forgot) and the hovering possibility of nuclear apocalypse. This time, at that place’southward a real live-ammo skirmish with an unidentified foe, a mysterious entity in possession of super-high-tech aircraft who is building an “unauthorized” weapons facility in a mountainous region of wherever. No names are mentioned, just “the enemy.” The circumspection is a little weird. Who or what are we supposed to be fighting? China? (In this economy?) The Taliban? Netflix? Covid?
It doesn’t matter. We never see the faces of the enemy pilots once the mission is underway. Which only confirms the sense that “Top Gun: Bohemian” has nothing to say nigh geopolitics and everything to exercise with the defense of quondam-fashioned movie values in the face of streaming-era nihilism.
Is the defense successful? The action sequences are tense and exuberant, reminders that flight has been one of the great thrills of movie theater almost from the starting time. The story is a mixed handbag. In spite of the emotional crosscurrents and physical hazards that buffet poor Maverick — his career, his beloved life and his duty to the retention of his expressionless friend, to say aught of M-forces and flak — the dramatic stakes seem curiously low.
The inferior pilots enact a kind of children’due south theater product of the offset movie. The cockfight between Bohemian and Iceman is echoed in the rivalrous posturing of Rooster and the arrogant Hangman (an interestingly Kilmeresque Glen Powell). We are treated to a shirtless game of touch football on the beach, which doesn’t quite match the original volleyball game for sweaty camp subtext. There are some memorable supporting performances — notably from Bashir Salahuddin, Monica Barbaro and the always solid Jon Hamm, every bit a past-the-book, stick-in-the-mud admiral — merely the world they inhabit is textureless and generic.
At times Kosinski seems to exist reaching for an updated version of the sun-kissed, high-mode ’80s aesthetic that “Top Gun” so effortlessly and elegantly typified. What he comes up with is something bland and basic, without the brazen, trashy sublimity you find in the piece of work of genuine pop auteurs like Scott, his brother Ridley, James Cameron or Michael Bay.
Though you may hear otherwise, “Top Gun: Maverick” is not a great moving picture. It is a thin, over-strenuous and sometimes very enjoyable pic. Simply information technology is likewise, and peradventure more significantly, an earnest statement of the thesis that movies can and should exist great. I’k one-time enough to call up when that went without saying. For Pete’s sake, I’1000 most every bit old as Maverick.
Top Gun: Bohemian
Rated PG-13. Running time: ii hours 11 minutes. In theaters.