I watched Top Gun: Toppest Gun last night. The movie, once it got going, was—
Well, it was a Top Gun movie, that’s for sure.
(For context, I was in Air Cadets as a youth in the 1980s, and so I was legally obligated to see Top Gun approximately 6.02×10²³ times.)
There was Tom Cruise flying planes worth quajillions of dollars. There was Tom Cruise charming a lady. There was Tom Cruise riding a motorbike with no helmet because that’s what heroes do. There was Tom Cruise, being brash and breaking all the rules. There was Tom Cruise grinning boyishly, endlessly. (“This is my only look,” indeed.)
Aside from Tom Cruise, there were other items in this movie. There was Val Kilmer in the Admiralty now. There was a shirtless game with balls (more oval this time). There was a smirking jerk pilot and an elite fighter pilot who needed glasses (wait what). There was a very very tight timeline that they still interrupted for an important funeral. There was dogfight training and a barroom singalong and some very very handwaved geopolitics. There was a trench run with a target not much larger than a womp rat. There was dogfighting—good thing they trained for it.
There were jet planes. Oh my word, there were jet planes. Some of them were fifth-generation, whatever that means; better than F‑18s in every way, apparently, though (spoiler alert) it sure didn’t end up seeming like it. There was a single, incredibly convenient F‑14.
There were tailhooks and catapults and missiles and chaff and “out of missiles, switching to guns”. There was a yellow-tinged montage of fighter jets departing a carrier to the dulcet tones of Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”.
I went into this movie with a bad attitude, I’ll admit it. Most of the mol of times I watched the first movie weren’t my choice; at Cadet camp, the first person to get to the staff lounge got to pick the movie for the night, and most everyone else wanted to watch Top Gun again.
The movie delivered in a lot of ways. I can see where people and critics like it. The actors are all very very good, the bit of necessary exposition when we’re introduced to The New Crop of Top Guns is handled about as well as it could be, and the stunts are breathtaking. I admit I laughed a few times (the “What were you thinking?” “You told me not to think!” “…Touché.” exchange was well-played, I thought).
I got what I expected. I got a Top Gun movie. I still don’t know if that’s what I wanted.
Cover photo by Darren Nunis on Unsplash. This is not one of the F‑18s in Top Gun.