Flight quarters, Flight quarters… began the phrase that announces to all of the crew in a repetitive silique that flight operations have begun on the ship. 30 years later I can still repeat the entire warning word for word. The moment I first saw Top Gun that’s what I wanted to do, be a Naval Aviator but the aircrew is the closest I got to flying as an enlisted member of the USS Essex (LHD-2). However, the understanding I received in the education of the flight deck is irreplaceable. Airedales (nickname for a Naval Air Crewmembers) was more than I could have hoped for, the smell of aviation fuel, the breeze blowing across the deck as the ship steams into the headwind for flight ops, was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
It is not an understatement to say that Top Gun is THE film that made Tom Cruise an A-List star and to think that he turned the part down three times, but producer Jerry Buckenham arranged for Cruise to experience a ride in a Navy jet and the rest is history. A history that left an indelible mark on Cruise to the point that he was the driving force behind this sequel being made some 30 years later. And as in the first film real jets with a real flying shot with minimal camera tricks and very little CG. Hence the reason you should experience the film on the big screen.
Top Gun: Maverick brings us the story of Pete ‘Maverick” Mitchell and where Maverick has been since his days at Top Gun.
A line that sums up the past thirty years of Maverick’s career and launches the audience into this sequel “Thirty-plus years of service. Combat medals. Citations. The only man to shoot down three enemy planes in the last 40 years. Yet you can’t get a promotion, you won’t retire, and despite your best efforts, you refuse to die. You should be at least a two-star Admiral by now, yet here you are. Captain. Why is that?” To this question Maverick answers, “It’s one of life’s mysteries, sir.” His answer is a response I have heard Navy men use many times to dissuade when they truly wish not to answer fully a question posed to them by senior personnel.
Maverick dodges advancement to keep flying, work as a test pilot, and eventually is forced into taking the job as an instructor to train Top Gun graduates for an upcoming classified mission. This is where we are introduced to the Navy’s newest elite pilots. One Airedale among this group is the son of Maverick’s RIO (Radio Information Officer) Goose’s son Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw. Whose character is brought to life wonderfully by Miles Teller (Whiplash, The Offer).
Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Tron: Legacy) the Director does an excellent job of merging the old and the new into a seamless feature that brings Maverick into the current age and gives this generation its unique forte in the world of Naval pilots. Quite possibly one of the best references to the first Top Gun is the addition of this film’s love interest, Penny Benjamin portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, who is referenced at times in the original Top Gun.
Additionally connecting the first film to Maverick shows us how his relationship with Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, revived by Val Kilmer (The Doors, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) has continued since their days in training early in their naval careers. And solidifying the relationship these pilots have with each other proving, that Iceman is still Maverick’s wingman.
Glen Powell (Hidden Figures, Everybody Wants Some) Once again works within the story to answer top guns single question who is the best of the best? and providing this film’s Iceman is Jake “Hangman” Seresin, who may be a bit more Maverick than Ice due to his lone-wolf nature.
Just like the first film, you will meet a whole new squadron of pilots, some of these stand out performances of note are Natasha “Phoenix” Trace who is portrayed by Monica Barbaro (The Good Cop, UnREAL), and, actor Bill Pullman’s son, Lewis Pullman (Outer Range, Catch 22) who portrays Robert “BOB” Floyd.
Providing Maverick a nemesis this time around is the are the Admirals Beau “Cyclone” Simpson portrayed by Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town) as well as Ed Harris (Apollo 13, The Rock).
Top Gun Maverick will bring you back to the love that audiences found with the first film and once again have us all finding that desire for the NEED,.. the need for speed!
Cruise has said that he wanted this film to be a love letter to Naval aviation. Well, Captain Mitchell’s mission accomplished, and then some. What you gave us is much more than that, it is the film of the summer and will live on through the excitement of sailors for many years to come.
I would like to wish its filmmakers, fair winds, and following seas through Maverick’s theatrical run as it sails into the hearts of any American film fan.