In short, I thought it was cliché, campy, vapid, dumb, and predictable. It was somehow dialogue-heavy without saying anything. The love story with Jennifer Connelly lacked chemistry and felt pointless and forced. The boat scene, what was that?
I thought I was in store for loud fighter pilot jet porn. Instead, I just re-watched all the flight scenes from the trailer. Which were better in the trailer because they didn’t have Tom Cruise talking over them with mission briefing exposition. Which happened twice! Why is Tom Cruise telling Top Gun alumni and me what G-Forces are? That’s like watching porn and the neighbor’s blonde Mom (who is late on rent) telling me what the G-Spot is. I don’t need to know what everything is to enjoy what I’m watching.
The Super-Duper Speedy Space-Ship-Jet…. WHY?
The first 20 minutes, minus the opening credits, were pointless. Maverick is a test pilot for a super-duper speedy space-ship-jet scheduled to go Mach-9. But Ed Harris is shutting the program down early to allocate funding for his drone program. The only way to magically save the program is if Maverick can go Mach-10 before Ed Harris gets there. Which he does.
What I don’t understand is everyone in the program is presumably in the Navy/Armed forces. They aren’t losing their jobs and ending up homeless; they will just get new orders and be reassigned. Exactly like what happened to Maverick in both movies.
The whole sequence contradicts itself. Maverick is supposedly selfless by risking his career to reach Mach-10. Still, somewhere between Mach-9 and Mach-10.4, he transforms into ego-driven selfish Maverick and continues to accelerate until the space-ship-jet blows up.
Remember in the original/good Top Gun, when Maverick screams in call sign Charlie’s face, “JESUS CHRIST! And you think I’m reckless! I’ll have you know that when I fly, my team and my plane come first!” He must have forgotten.
I don’t understand how the same motivation to risk your career wasn’t compelling enough to save the jet for the program you are supposedly trying to save. Can you even eject and survive at Mach-10 point whatever? Ed Harris can cancel a program at Mach-9, but not Mach-10? Sounds like he can do whatever he wants. Admiral Ice-Man can save Maverick’s career but can’t save the program? Regardless, it seemed like Admiral Iceman was already going to reassign Maverick to the impossible underground Death Star mission. Worst of all, it didn’t tell me anything about Maverick’s character except that he somehow grew and regressed as a character in the time it takes to reach the speed of sound. Which reinforces my opinion that the whole sequence was fucking pointless.
The Underground Death Star:
The mission to destroy the underground (Russian) Death Star was contrived and ridiculous. They had intel that the almost operational underground battle station needed 3 weeks to complete. They even had intel that construction was a week ahead of schedule but somehow didn’t have intel it was being built.
And so, what? They (Russia) don’t already have nukes? I never understood why you need hundreds of nukes? Shouldn’t you only need a handful, and the world is over? I doubt (Russia) would sell them to anyone and risk any backlash or nuclear fallout. So, I failed to see the urgency except for the forced urgency.
Are you telling me the tomahawk missile strike they used to level the (Russian) airfield that wasn’t stopped by the fully stocked mountain range of surface-to-air missiles – that the airfield somehow didn’t see coming – couldn’t accomplish the same thing? Instead of the impossible mission, that never even attempts to explain why it must be flown by real people instead of using drones or missile strikes. With all the explaining, I missed any explanation for that nonsense.
I was happy to see Val Kilmer as Ice-Man, and I thought it was a respectful way to include him in the story. Although, I could have done without scenes of Maverick and Ice-Man texting each other. It made me feel the same way as when my Dad uses emojis, uncomfortable and out of place.
Ice-Man’s funeral was a missed opportunity to milk the nostalgia. You’re telling me not one legacy Top Gun character could make it to the funeral? Not even Slider?! Not to mention Hollywood, Wolfman, Merlin, or Sundown? If Maverick and the Top Gun Class of 86 all lined up as you see Slider shed a tear for an old friend, I would’ve cried like a baby while I hid my erection.
I’m open to my perspective being tainted by not managing my expectations, comparison bias for the original, and “golden-age thinking.” Although, I’d argue that since TOP GUN: MAVERICK is a sequel, it’s okay to make that comparison, and I don’t think they did an excellent job of combining the old with the new by overcomplicating everything.
Respect for the Original
I forgot how simple and straightforward the original plot was. It was about being a fighter pilot and BEING the BEST. It was also about love, friendship, responsibility, rivalry, personal growth, overcoming ego, overcoming loss, acceptance, letting go, and rising to the occasion.
In the original, the pilots and their REO’s were inseparable to the point of practically being married. They had their arms around each other, whispered in each other’s ears, had each other’s backs, and let the other know when or what gave them a hard-on. Showcasing an intimate unparalleled connection. That’s why it was so devastating when Goose died. Why it remains one of the most devastating deaths in movie history. It immediately changed the rules and upped the ante. If Goose can die, anyone can die. Which added suspense to the climactic final battle.
I didn’t see any of that in TOP GUN: MAVERICK. The lengths Tom Cruise went to shoot practical scenes and train the actors is commendable. If only they applied the same methodology to the ultimately underwhelming and disappointing story.
Goose, I’m glad you weren’t around to see this…