Movie Review – Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Ba na na na na na na na na ba na na na na na na na na na….highway to the danger zone! Highway to the danger zone!

Welcome to the danger zone, 3.5 readers. BQB here with a review of this long-awaited sequel to everyone’s favorite fighter jet movie.

Ah, where does the time go? I remember being a little kid just yesterday, my parents taking me to see the original Top Gun. They bought me GI Joes afterwards. Then I blinked and suddenly I am a decrepit old bastard running a blog that is only read by 3.5 readers. I forgot to do a lot of stuff I wanted to do between the original and the sequel but oh well. This isn’t about me, right?

As we return to the world of Top Gun, we find Maverick as a test pilot, pushing the envelope, still taking unnecessary risks that infuriate his superiors. As they note, anyone with his long record of service should be an admiral or a statesman by now, but Maverick being the mavericky maverick that he is, just can’t follow the rules.

However, the brass admit that Maverick is the most awesome and badass fighter pilot at the Navy’s disposal, so they dispatch him back to Top Gun school to train a new generation of volleyball playing fighter pilots to take out an unsanctioned uranium enriching facility operated by an unspecified rogue nation. As a viewer, you are required to ignore a) the wimpiness of the film for not specifying which nation this is, for the enemy fighter jets have no specific markings and their helmet visors are kept shut at all times so you can’t guess their ethnicity and b) let’s be honest. If a rogue country is operating a uranium enrichment facility in this day and age, it’s probably because America paid for it in the wimpy hope that by buying them off they’d promise to only use the uranium for energy purposes. If anything, the mission in real life would be for Maverick to drop pallets of cash into the rogue nation’s airspace with his trusty F-15 Tomcat.

Alright, I digress. Besides, I give the film credit for at least admitting that blowing up an illegal nuke operation in the hands of evildoers is a good idea and something to promote through film in this age of wokesterism.

Moving on, Maverick’s new recruits include Phoenix, a lady pilot because you gotta have one. Bob, a nerd because they allow nerds to fly planes now. Back in the 1980s, nerds were only allowed to play with calculators and polish their pocket protectors in movies so they have progressed since Mav’s heyday. There’s the token jerk Hangman and a few others with cool call signs. I forget their kickass fighter pilot names. Lenny and Squiggy and Dopey and Sleepy and Sneezy and Doc, I think. Long story short, Rooster (Miles Teller made up to look like a young Anthony Edwards) is following in the footsteps of his late father as a fighter pilot. This leads to tension between the two as Rooster still blames Mav for the death of his BFF Goose so many years ago. Meanwhile, Mav blames himself and the fear of being responsible for the deaths of two generations of the same family of fighter pilots is too much for him to bear, such that he is crushed by the possibility that he wouldn’t be able to go on if he allows something bad to happen to the R-man.

Truth be told, even the flick admits that fighter jets are somewhat obsolete as drones and guided missiles typically take care of a lot of the work they used to do. Even so, Top Gun school continues in real life just in case the world needs aerial dog fighters to save the day. You have to suspend a bit of disbelief and just enjoy the sights and sounds. The flying stunts and tricks are a lot of fun and must be watched on the big screen.

Oh, and Jennifer Connelly stops by as Mav’s love interest while Jon Hamm takes the role of the stereotypical superior whose main job is to tell Maverick he is an asshole who is going to get everyone killed but then never offer any constructive alternatives.

Touching cameo from Val Kilmer who played Maverick’s frenemy Ice-Man in the original. It’s sad what time can do to a man but the cameo is tasteful. Honestly, even the whole movie is respectful, straddling the line between going its own way and not just being a cash grab rehash of the original.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. In all seriousness, this film as well as the original captured a sentiment lost on the public, namely that the ability to create, build, maintain, fly and use fighter craft is nothing short of magic. All the resources, manpower, time, effort, money and yes, skill and talent in keeping this metal birds in the sky is a marvel of modern science that seems like it should be impossible yet somehow it is. It really is a testament to a nation’s greatness when they are able to operate fighter jets and movies that celebrate US awesomeness are few and far between as of late, so kudos for Hollywood for making it.

Double kudos for Tom Cruise who really proves he is one of the last true movie stars. Yeah, he had his weird little freak out when he jumped on Oprah’s couch years back but he really does make a good flick and even comes out as himself before the film to thank you for watching it (oops, spoiler) so that’s awesome.

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