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MOVIE REVIEW: Top Gun Maverick (2022)
An Oscar Frontrunner, in this economy?!
(Editors Note: Some of these reviews I’m pulling off old Facebook posts or blog posts and stuff like that, because why the hell not. In this case specifically I hear Top Gun Maverick’s generating strong Best Picture Oscar buzz, which really wants to make me put this on my Substack. Also worth noting that one of the most annoying things (for me) is reading TV show/movie reviews from several newspapers and elite critics that’s so thought provoking and strong vocabulary that I literally can’t understand half of it. Consider my reviews not “Reviews for Dummies’ but “Reviews for people who struggle to understand what the fuck people like Gene Siskel or the New York Times are actually writing)
On that note, here’s my review of Top Gun Maverick that I watched in late September.
MOVIE REVIEW (WITH SPOILERS): I finally watched Top Gun after all these months of wasted opportunities. Commercially it’s done astronomical, grossing over $1.4 billion worldwide, the highest of Tom Cruise’s career and fifth highest-grossing domestic film ever. If that’s not the prototype for what a summer blockbuster’s supposed to be, I don’t know what the hell is. Dollars are great but, is it actually good? Here’s my take and again, these have SPOILERS-- SO IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN AND/OR DON’T WANT TO KNOW, skip this post, any comments and also shame on you:
PROS: I came in hoping to embrace a plentiful helping of the cheese, nostalgia, and theatrics of its 1986 predecessor. I was pleased as the style and vibes never strayed too far from the original. Maverick is a true summer blockbuster film in every sense of the word and by the way, a really strong performance by Cruise, someone I’ve never been a big fan of quite frankly through the years. Cruise shows Maverick as nuanced and makes him more likeable than he probably deserves to be. Say what you will and have his back, but end of the day he’s the reason Goose died decades earlier, and Maverick’s erratic behavior constantly endangers other lives, that prick. Also, seeing how important he was to the original, I enjoye3d how they worked Iceman in and even though his role was brief it’s still significant. Additionally, a solid job of making Rooster look a spitting image of his father (Goose) and sure, “Hangman” was a dick but that’s what he was supposed to be and did so well. Also, a good job of storytelling to make it clear who Rooster was and why Maverick didn’t want him becoming a pilot. At first I didn’t like Penny introduced with no background other than being a former flame of Maverick’s, but I thought she (Jennifer Connolly) was ultimately magnificent not to mention crucial to this story. By the way, great casting with small but meaningful for roles for acting studs like Jon Hamm and Ed Harris among others. Lastly, I loved the ending---it’s ok to leave a movie feeling good and this was the perfect wrap-up (I’m assuming so anyway) to a story that began in the mid-80’s.
CONS: One spoiler I unintentionally found out beforehand was Maverick’s love interest from Top Gun, Charlie, wasn’t in this sequel. That’s fine but 35+ years later I would’ve liked to known what happened to her and Charlie as a couple. Did she die? Did she bang Iceman, Viper or Jester behind his back? Nothing regarding Charlie’s addressed in the film and that bothers me, as a simple throwaway line or two somewhere early on would satisfy nitpickers like myself. The other thing that annoys me a little, similarly to and maybe more than the original is we all know these are the best pilots on earth, flying an extremely dangerous mission that could result in loss of life and there’s an enemy--- but it’s really hard to understand exactly who the enemy is? Who’s firing missiles and using jet fighters against them exactly? To be fair, many have said they didn’t want to make any specific country the enemy and that’s fair, but make up a fictional country or something for fuck’s sake. Lastly, this is NOT a con perse, but you should watch the original before seeing this. It’s not necessarily crucial but I’m confident you’re investment in a handful of characters will be stronger having seen the first movie.
VERDICT: I see why this has done historically well at the box office, even in spite of scumbags like me who watch it for free on “alternative” streaming devices. The action was exceptional, air stunts often extraordinary, chuckle-worthy scenes, 80s vibes overload when there should be (military bar scene and football on the beach offered as evidence) and emotional moments for sure. Yeah, the movie was cheesy and for the most part extremely predictable—especially Goose saving Maverick’s life and Hangman getting the sweet character redemption by saving both of theirs but who gives a shit—Top Gun Maverick ain’t trying to be something it’s not----it’s not Gone with the Wind, Casablanca or Citizen Kane. It’s a blockbuster loaded with the action, theatrics and cheese that made you feel 1986 wasn’t so far long ago. Loved that it was modern but didn’t stray too far from the O.G. feels. However, I really wish they would’ve at least addressed/acknowledged Charlie not being around. It’s one of the very few misses in a very good—no, great feel-good action-packed film. One last thing---this totally could be set up to keep a Top Gun movie franchise going with Goose, Hangman and Phoenix taking over a riding off into the sunset Maverick (and Penny).
Grade: A. This was fuckin’ solid.