Not much has changed in Top Gun: Maverick. The best takeaway is that both the original and this latest has fantastic music that honours the past and future.
Even the copycat films of the time had its strong musical moments. It’s tough not to forget what Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone” and Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” confirms as part of the presentation. The lyrics establish more than just the tone of the work, but also provide a capsule summary of each set piece.
The story picks up about thirty-five years later, with Captain Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise) “stuck” in a rut. He’s like James T. Kirk from the early Star Trek movies. Their career is going nowhere, and it took several films for both to find where they belong. Are either of the two an officer or a gentleman? No, they’re both free spirits; they are more than just another ghost rider in the sky. They don’t want to be confined to duty.
This film gets up close and personal. To get those goosebumps when riding that wild wind with a precision machine is what this film aimed for and I say the production team succeeded. There’s some effects shots which even I’m not sure if they are CGI or real.
I’m surprised a certain Queen song wasn’t used, and the only reason this film delivers is because it’s not stuck in the 80s. The producers opted for one song out of respect, and went for all new tracks to define this sequel. It’s updated to consider modern pop as defined by the 21st century. Lady GaGa and OneRepublic represent today’s soundscape.
Also, there’s a sly subplot which I enjoyed. The future of any military service can’t be replaced by machines. Even Kirk had that problem with automation when the M-5 Unit was installed in “The Ultimate Computer.” But Maverick knows something others don’t–machines can’t replicate human ingenuity. He’s sent back to TOPGUN not as punishment; he’s there to show the next generation of pilots how to aim higher than he ever will. Thankfully, this version of Kirk knows age is finally catching up to him.
There’s a top secret mission to take down a uranium plant. Just why they’re considered the enemy is vague, and I wanted to know if the USA is conducting a secret war. Moreever, this installation is heavily protected, and the only way to destroy it is to make a Trench Run much like in Star Wars.
Sadly, this movie is all about making familiar references rather than to offer a completely new ride. Although most of Pete’s graduating class became admirals, he purposely stayed behind to do what he pleases, and that’s to fly like an eagle. But we see Maverick still tormented by the death of Goose and, even worse, his son Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. To see the two at odds gives this film some weight and a better sense of continuity, otherwise it’s just another fly in the wall of summer blockbusters to watch.
At least what’s presented in Top Gun: Maverick is a marvel of precision filmmaking. The on the edge of your seat IMAX presentation of presumably real dog-fights and what goes on behind the cockpit is enough to inspire. And as for what that means for this franchise, it’s merely an add-on to Cruise’s resume. It won’t win any awards, but at least the tunes is just as good. I’m sure we’ll even have even more music videos for those folks who still watch them.
3½ Stars out of 5
For Further Reading:
Top Gun: Maverick Final Extended Trailer