“Top Gun: Maverick” – Tom Cruise sequel film hints at a dangerous possibility in international “politics”

flying east from San Francisco, 2018-9

With all my recent travels, I hadn’t seen a movie in a theater all month, so Memorial Day afternoon I got into the groove again and saw “Top Gun: Maverick” at the Angelika Mosaic in Fairfax/Merrifield VA (by the way, my favorite in his chain is the 3-levels on Mockingbird in Dallas).

Oops, “Top Gun”, not “Top Fun” is Paramount/Skydance’s trademark based on Jim Cash’s serializable characters (caught a typo).  I remember seeing the 1986 film “Top Gun” (directed by Tony Scott) with a younger Tom Cruise Mapother in the now removed Northpark in Dallas when I was living there. 

Top Gun 1986 film trailer

Now, Cruise (all of 67 inches) is 59, and has been ripening ever since climbing towers in Dubai.  The film (“Top Gun: Maverick“), however, may have real political significance this time around.

trailer for Top Gun: Maverick 2022

As the film (directed by Joseph Kosinski) starts, Naval Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell will be forced to retire.  In desperation, be goes out on a run and crashes a plane, parachuting to some remove Sierra Nevada village.  He is not in a zone of comfort, according to Harmon Circle screenplay theory (131 minutes).  Rear Admiral Chester Cain (“Hammer” – Ed Harris) is again about to tell him he is out, but suddenly the Pentagon wants him to teach a cadre of a dozen top guns to dive and dogfight into a secluded uranium enrichment or nuclear weapon facility overseas.  That becomes the opportunity and plot.  In a sense, what it “costs” him (in Harmon theory) is that he can’t fly himself.  Well, we’ll see.  Like will you pass the course after all.

Maverick’s main “adversary” (of sorts, at least in a matter of “suspicion”) is Bradley Benjamin, who is called “Rooster” (that is, “Chickenman”, in Fort Eustis/Rado S talk), played by Miles Teller.  You have to get used to this Miles if you got addicted to him in “Whiplash” (2014).  Can he be great again?  After all, Tom Cruise isn’t exactly JK Simmons. 

In fact, Rooster is an “antagonist” because Maverick had, at one time, denied Rooster’s ability to get into the Naval Academy.  Maverick now is only a captain (O6) himself so now they are about even.  Here, you get into the idea that the US Navy has its own air force.  US Air Force jets normally don’t have the tailhook gear enabling them to land on aircraft carriers.  So Navy jets are mainly an expansion of sea power, not space.  That matters. It’s likely that steep dives and dogfights are more critical in Naval missions.  For some teens considering a military career (especially post-DADT), this can really matter as to choice of service. (You can ask the same questions about why we have both an Army, and a Marine Corps belonging to the Navy – and a Coast Guard belonging to the Treasury.)

How the Navy’s ‘air force’ differs from the US Air Force

Maverick and Rooster will gradually have to learn to work together and bond for the mission to work.  The movie’s middle passes, until the mission arrives.  One might have expected the target to be in Iran, but the sequences in film’s sequence place the uranium facility in a mountain cave near an ocean. That practically means it has to be North Korea.  (The actual filming was done around Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada.)  This is a provocative assumption for a movie.  I understand that Trump considered prophylactic aggression against the DPRK to follow the Winter Olympics in early 2018 but was dissuaded, from an operation that could have started, well, WWIII (North Korea might well have been capable of an EMP strike against the continental US then – and imagine what could have happened to Seoul).  In any case, Kim Jung-un can assume he has been attacked at least in a fictitious movie.  Today, we live in a world where communism (China, North Korea), oligarchical neo-fascism (Russia), and radical Islam can all be existentially dangerous.  The biggest enemy keeps rotating.

The movie has a long epilogue.  In a replay almost of the Doolittle operation after Pearl Harbor, Maverick and Rooster get caught behind enemy lines (shot down). They steal an enemy F14 jet and fly it out to the aircraft carrier, succeeding in a dogfight.  Yes, they get along now.  

Amazon SiteStripe text for this film link. Imdb link.

(Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2022 at 10)