Skip to content

At the movies: a top gurn at Mach 10

June 16, 2022

Two brief reviews of Top Gun: Maverick. Choose your review depending on whether you’re a po-faced politico-nerd determined to derive meta-messages and wider meaning from a much-acclaimed movie (like me at times), or whether you all you care about is sitting back and enjoying the ride (also like me at times).

Let’s look at the ride first. As an “action movie”, the new Top Gun is the equivalent of a high end theme park packed with thrilling variants of the same rollercoaster. It’s held together with a weepy back story rooted in the first movie. It’s superbly choreographed – the aerobatic sequences are a close as you’re ever likely to get to a high-quality virtual reality experience with your backside planted on a popcorn-strewn cinema seat. It reeks of testosterone. Not so much gung ho as hung go. It’s a simple story, easy even for someone like me to understand. In a movie whose co-stars are big, throbbing machines, the tech doesn’t distract you. And, as the icing on the cake, it’s not Marvel. No Norse gods, iron men, aliens, monsters and massed orcs. Otherwise I wouldn’t have walked through the door in the first place.

Now for the meta stuff. Not surprisingly, given the origin of the movie, it’s full of familiar themes – a subliminal advertisement, if you like, for the American Dream. Redemption. The pioneer spirit. The triumph of the individual. Flags everywhere. Respect for the military. A counterpoint to the war is hell school of Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now. Even though much of the work on the movie must have been done during the Trump era, it transcends all of the MAGA nastiness. For American audiences, there’s something for everyone. It ticks all the diversity boxes – a wide ethnic mix, and a kick-ass female pilot makes the cut for the mission. The plot is plausible in terms of current geopolitical realities, yet at a time when the US hesitates to provide weaponry with which Ukraine can attack targets in Russian territory, but politically implausible in terms of the likely consequences. Commercially, nothing to offend the Chinese, so that’s OK. Since the movie was completed before Vladimir Putin returned Russia to its traditional baddie role, it falls to the poor old Middle East to play Darth Vader once more.

Tom Cruise is a miracle of self-discipline, Botox, modern science, CGI or whatever. How the hell can he stay so young-looking? From a parochial British perspective, he’s America’s Cliff Richard. I suppose one day he’ll collapse into a jowly wreck like most of his peers, but clearly not yet. Time for at least one more Mission Impossible movie, as the trailer before the main feature reminded us.

One way or another, did I enjoy Top Gun: Maverick? Hell yes. I went because of the rave reviews, and they weren’t wrong. It’s good to enjoy some primary colours amidst the complexity and gloom. On Tuesday, Jonny Bairstow blasting the opposition away to give England a rare win at cricket. And yesterday, Maverick reminding us that even the old dogs have a bit of life in them, especially when they show the young pups a thing or two.

If only life was always that simple. For the rest of the day, back to my dreams of other movies, in which Trump is wearing an orange jump suit, Boris is hiding in a fridge in the back of a truck taking him and his stuff out of Downing Street, and Rwanda is best known for its mountain gorillas.

From → Film, Middle East, Politics, UK, USA

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: