Retirement Is Not An Option

Top Gun: Maverick
Stars: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer, Monica Barbaro, Greg Tarzan Davis, Bashir Salahuddin and Jake Picking
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Scriptwriters: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie based on characters by Jim Cash and Jack Epps
Composers: Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga and  Lorne Balfe
Skydance Media/Paramount Pictures
Rating: PG 13 (?)
Running Length: 132 Minutes 

A word of caution: after seeing this film, be careful driving out of the theater parking lot. You wouldn’t want a speeding ticket a few hundred feet from your theater seat. Yes, “Top Gun: Maverick” is finally on a movie screen (large and small) for fans to enjoy. What a treat. If you are cautious about heights,  be careful when getting out of your theater seat.  Acclimate yourself first.  This is one roller-coaster ride through the clouds on a sunny day. 

Actor Tom Cruise originated the role of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell back in 1986.  Cruise is comfortable in this style of action: pause before speaking as though thinking carefully what to say next, then, hesitantly, begin. This serves him well in this role where Mitchell wants to stay in his past, but begins to see he can’t. The film has become famous for top-notch flying, soundtrack and longevity.  Each generation since, has embraced the idea of taking a multi-million-dollar fighter into the skies and having one heck of a dogfight. As is noted in this film, the dogfights of the past are just that – in the past – as militaries around the world embrace new technology using drones. Don’t let that stop you.  There is still that split-second decision that only the human mind can make and before the enemy knows it, you are on their tail. 

Back to the story, Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is still a Captain in the Air Force, though he could be an Admiral. Memories of the past haunt Pete, so he lingers in his secure position. However, fate enters the picture and Pete is told he will now be a flight instructor for the latest group of pilots in the Top Gun military program. Pete meets  an old girlfriend, Penny (Jennifer Connelly) and her daughter.  Penny runs the local bar. However, fate enters the picture and Pete is told he will now be a flight instructor for the latest group of pilots in the Top Gun military program. One of the pilots, “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller) is the son of Pete’s late friend, “Goose” Bradshaw, who died when the plane Pete was piloting went down. Pete has carried this guilt for 30 years and it seems, “Rooster” carries hatred toward Pete, too. A friend in the Navy who always has Pete’s back is “Iceman” (Val Kilmer), now an Admiral.  There are many young pilots in this group, including a woman, “Phoenix” (Monica Barbaro) whose flying partner is “Bob” (Lewis Pullman) and they are very good. The one who thinks he is best of all is “Hangman” (Glen Powell) and his ego envelopes the room.  Eventually, all manage to get together as a team when they are “hit” in the sky numerous times by Pete sneaking up on them.  Lessons are learned the hard way, Be watchful and think in split second increments. The major problem here is a nuclear plant in Afghanistan, set inside an old volcano, and guarded by their militia and numerous weapons. Just to describe this would take a book, but you get the idea.  Either fly the mission or die. At this point, be ready for action. 

After ten years of putting this film together, the storyline is passable, acting is good, dialogue is fine, and there are some humorous moments such as when Penny takes Pete out for a sailboat ride and though he is in the Navy, he doesn’t know his way around a sailboat. A touching moment concerns Val Kilmer, who in real life, is ill. Kilmer does the role of the Admiral very well when he and Pete meet for a serious discussion.  

The soundtrack has Lady Gaga singing the title song of  “Hold My Hand” and also, there is “I Ain’t Worried” by OneRepublic. The music has memories of the first soundtrack of 1986 and the rhythms of 2022. I’m sure at Oscar time, there will be nominations here. Then, there is the storyline, that delves into what haunts people from the past and how to cope with it in today’s world. What happens to a man when he sees a future of flying and he isn’t a part of it? Replaced now by someone in a closed room thousands of miles away at the controls.  If there was a space shuttle that could blast off from an aircraft carrier and go to the moon, Pete Mitchell would be the first one on it.  There is a saying “need for speed,” and these pilots all have it. You never sit still, always on alert for a chance to get into that flying piece of metal and go for it. Pete has a motorcycle, and we see this at the beginning of the film as he is working on a vintage airplane. This “need for speed” is what brings the” Star Trek” films with Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk, into play. He, too, had to travel fast on Earth in order to go higher in space. 

Director Joseph Kosinski pulls it all together in a nice package of comradeship in an elite world, and a brotherhood that now allows women to have a role in  flying those million-dollar planes. The sky is not the limit anymore, neither is infinity, they seek to go beyond even that.  

For Tom Cruise action fans, the next installment of his "Mission: Impossible" films is due out in 2023.  


Copyright 2022 Marie Asner