Tom Cruise is the “Old Man” who shows aviators how to fly for 36 years – Morning Bell

He failed to cross the enemy of the pandemic, which postponed its release for two years, but “Top Gun: Maverick” can not lose.

It’s a pretty good time, and often a pretty good movie for the nervous fog we’re in right now. It’s cozy. And it will be catnip for those who want to watch Tom Cruise flare up That Look. “It’s the only one I have,” he says twice in front of screen cohorts who aren’t international movie stars.

What is this look? It’s half a smile of disobedience when a senior officer (Ed Harris or John Ham this time) unsuccessfully smashes a test pilot and a speed-born congenital man, Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

It is a “look” that is combined with an eternally boyish voice and behavior. These are those sideways uncertain looks, right next to Warren Beatty early in his career. And this is the only species that is possibly related to the Maverick lines from 1986’s Top Gun, the worst / best of which are: “Son, your ego writes checks that your body can’t cash out.”

Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. wrote the first one, ripping off every aviation picture that could appear on VCRs. Half of “Top Gun: Maverick” is a return call to the original of ’86, which wasn’t like my summer blockbuster, but it’s a free country.

The second half of the 36-year-old sequel directed by Jozef Kasinski goes in other, reluctantly progressive directions, in a softer blockbuster key. Now I want to be clear. The script of “Top Gun: Maverick” does an amazing amount to keep the film in the air, even if its dialogue between explosions with an explosion from the air is as banal and tasteless as in the original. (Maverick’s screenwriters are Eren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie.) The results effectively strengthen and polish the Tom Cruise monument, which is Tom Cruise. And the directive to preserve the stars in the sequel writes checks, which the public will almost certainly receive in cash.

The old “Top Gun” opened from the screen of words about the “lost art of air combat” and the elite school of combat weapons of the US Navy at the Naval Air Base Miramar in San Diego. “Maverick” begins with the same phrase, only the art of air combat indeed lost now, in an era of drone warfare.

Captain Mitchell, who lives alone in the desert with his favorite Kawasaki motorcycle, his old cohort Iceman (Val Kilmer – about him later), now commander of the US Pacific Fleet, calls for a new and time-honorable service. Maverick has three weeks to train a group of new aces Top Gun to destroy a uranium enrichment plant in an uncertain but probably Slavic location. One of the listeners is Bradley’s “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the abusive son of the late radar interception officer Maverick Gus, played by Anthony Edwards at the time.

And that’s it. Quite simply. Jennifer Connelly takes on the new role of barmaid Penny, Maverick’s old flame, now a single mother. It’s nice to see Cruz and Connelly sharing scenes, relying entirely on how they look against the backdrop of desert horizons or on close-up telegraphy in the style of Tony Scott. At some point, after the most restrained sex scene in screen history, they talk on pillows that we see but don’t hear (it’s a montage) and you imagine what the actors are actually saying. “So what did you do when I was filming ‘All the Right Steps’?”

A lot of “Top Gun: Maverick” works that way; it’s a time machine, 80s karaoke (naturally, Penny’s bar is filled with Bowie’s song “Let’s Dance”) and a familiar fable about smoothing out and restoring confidence through eliminating the enemy. I lost sight of how many insults Maverick suffers from young people. Paps. Relic. The old man. Fossils. Cruz may look a week and a half older than the 86th, but this film has all the friction between the generations it can get.

How are things with the other new top gunners? Everything is well played, everything is stupidly written. There is the Hanger (Glen Powell), the arrogant equivalent of Eisman, who is dizzy with self-esteem. And there’s a woman! That’s right, woman! Phoenix Monica Barbara doesn’t have much to do other than push-ups and firm determination in reaction shot mode, but she is an advantage. However, there is a side effect that comes from joining some blacks and minority performers. Once too often they are just another surprised section for Maverick’s heroism. Your enjoyment of “Top Gun: Maverick” depends on things other than dimensional characters. At first they were not and were not needed. Why is that?

The flight scenes, in my inexperienced view, are much more impressive and comprehensive (and better edited per mile) than the 86s. Here, director Kosinski and his staff made the clearest leap from the first film. Some of the superficial techniques are deployed on the foundation as well. I haven’t seen so many slow transitions from one hit to another over the years, and they have a way of reinforcing Maverick’s isolation when he’s lowered, killed, humiliated, just before Cruz rises, rises, and goes again. “The fastest man alive,” snarls one of the captured naval officers at the beginning, when Maverick overcomes the 10 Mach wave just back.

Homeopathic team building? Glad you asked: instead of brilliant beach volleyball without a T-shirt we have beach football without a T-shirt, only this time, after a while, Maverick sits on the sidelines, watching his wards with a mournful smile. The key line in “Top Gun: Maverick” is “Don’t Think There. Just do it. You think up there, you’re dead. ” Maverick repeats this axiom to the gloomy Rooster, whom Teller makes more interesting than he writes.

Speaking of which: a scene that really cuts through all the brilliant, amusing scams, unites Cruz and Admin Kilmer Kazansky. It is a meeting of two kinds of actors and two movie stars. Kilmer’s well-known health problems make the details of Eisman’s cancer even more influential. Their big stage might strike with a false sense, but for some reason it doesn’t. As Maverick and Iceman reconsider the past and look warily at the future, which may not belong to them, the cardboard turns almost imperceptibly into flesh, and the film becomes more than a lesson in the cunning creation of a sequel. The interaction of Cruz, whose fame, like many huge stars, surpassed his versatility and ability to surprise, and Kilmer, whose success has never matched his talent, is played out in dimensional terms. Even the musical score recedes and allows them to act.

The best in the film is taken from this scene. The victory, in the end, is predestined, but it is stupid enough to satisfy both young and old audiences. It may help to hate the original, but I liked this one, although it’s not that different from the first one. Thirty-six years from now, we’ll probably be watching Cruz teach a new frame of flying aces. Only the planet will change.

Top Gun: Maverick – 3 Stars (out of 4)

MPAA score: PG-13 (for a sequence of intense action and sharp clear words)

Duration: 2:17

How to watch: Premieres in theaters on May 27

Michael Phillips is a critic of the Tribune.


Twitter @phillipstribune

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