Movie Review, Top Gun: Maverick
Spoilers Ahead! You've been warned!
So let's get this out of the way, this is the reason why I go to the movies! When a movie gets you in all the feels and gives you a triumphant feeling in the end then it's a 5 Star review from me. I'll go over what I think the intro is and then showcase some of my favorite parts of the movie. So let's get into the movie.
The movie starts off with our protagonist Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell being assigned on post in the the Mojave Desert as a test pilot. He is test piloting a new plane that has the potential to reach Mach 10 called the "Dark Star".
This plane is completely fictional but I heard a rumor that the Chinese Government thought the plane was real and moved some satellites to see what it was. Maverick unveils a Kawasaki GPZ900R, the same motorcycle he rode in the original Top Gun circa 1986, and rides to the test hangar. The days test is for the Dark Star to reach mach 9 and in 2 months to reach mach 10. He arrives and everyone is looking down. Turns out that unless the plane can reach the contract speed of mach 10 today the program will lose all of its funding. Since the plane hasn't reached that speed, Admiral Cain is on his way to shut down the program. Maverick knows that if the program loses all it's funding the crew of the program will all lose their jobs. He proposes that the Admiral isn't there yet and they should proceed with the test and attempt mach 10. The character WO-1 Bernie "Hondo" Coleman, played by Bashir Salahuddin asks Maverick, if he's sure he wants to do it and Maverick replies. "I know what will happen to everyone else if I don't." This is one of the shining moments that tells you what type of character Maverick is.
Maverick gets prepped for his plane and prepares to take off. Admiral Cain arrives just as Maverick in the Dark Star is taking off. The launch blows off the roof of the security booth that the Admiral is standing by. The Admiral barges into the control center and orders the grounding of the plane but Maverick fakes radio problems and continues with the test. There is a whole build up of Maverick reaching mach 9 and then as he pushes the Dark Star to mach 10 he says "Talk to me Goose". The Dark Star only needs to reach mach 10 for the program to continue with it's funding but Maverick being Maverick pushes it past mach 10 to mach 10.2 before catastrophic failure and the plane burns up. The next scene shows Maverick walking into a diner full of families, in the middle of no where USA tattered and disoriented. He motions for a glass of water and asks "Where am I?" and one of the kids answers "Earth". Maverick is airlifted back to base where he faces Admiral Cain. After some cool dialogue Maverick is ordered back to the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program, otherwise known as Top Gun. This is where the movie starts...
From here I'll point out some plot points and some of my favorite parts of the movie.
First I want to talk about the revamped motorcycle he's now riding.
He's now riding a Kawasaki Ninja H2R. When I first saw it, the logo on the front looks like Yamaha's logo. So I was really confused but after the movie I looked it up and here's this beauty in all it's glory. For all you motorcycle heads out there this is 998cc Four Stroke Super Charged Engine. It cranks out 121.5 lb of torque @ 12,500 RPM. I couldn't find the official hp on it but I found an article quoting around 300hp. I'm not too sure about that but that's all I could find at the time of me writing this. It's also a $56k, no I'm not talking about the fasted modem in the 1998. I'm talking about $56,000 pre-tax U.S. dineros! Pound for pound, this is not the best bang for your buck unless you have Tom Cruise Money. You can definitely pick up a Hayabusa for $19k for a better value but I digress. The looks remind me of a GSXR 1000, which I'm a fan of. The only problem I had concerning the motorcycle scenes is the fact that Maverick didn't wear a helmet. I believe the movie is set mostly in San Diego and we have helmet laws here in Ca.
Call backs to "Goose" were littered through out the whole movie but the biggest call back is his son "Rooster" played by Miles Tiller. There is an awkward relationship between the two and not for the reasons you may think. I think the relationship put Maverick in an awkward surrogate father figure and made him face the demons of his past, which he was not ready to face.
The major plot of the movie is Maverick was ordered back to Top Gun to train a group of elite fighter pilots to fly an "Impossible Mission", see what I did there? They were tasked with bombing an unsanctioned uranium plant that was nestle between 2 mountains at the end of a canyon protected by surface to air missiles (SAM) and supported by a squadron of 5th Gen fighters. Maverick devised a plan that would require the squadron to fly at the max altitude of 100ft through the canyon to avoid the SAM turrets pull off a high speed climb then invert into a bombing run position to hit a target less than 3 meters wide then pull off another high speed climb to avoid hitting the next mountain then avoid the SAM turrets exiting the run. This had to be done in 2 min 30 secs to avoid the 5th Gen fighters or they would have to dog fight their way out against more advanced fighter planes. I know, I know it was a lot! If you got lost read that part again.
A huge chunk of the aerial sequences are about getting the team ready. One of the best scenes is between Admiral Ben "Cyclone" Simpson played by Jon Hamm where the discuss the parameters of the mission, Cyclone states that the mission is to fly to the target and bomb it, then Maverick adds "And make it home, Sir". Cyclone says that each mission has its risks and these pilots except that, then Maverick emphases "And to make it home"! Another nod to how Maverick sees his team.
Val Kilmer reprises his role as Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, He doesn't get too much on screen time and doesn't have many lines. Maverick and Iceman have a touching scene where it's revealed that Ice has throat cancer. Val Kilmer in real life is had throat cancer, fortunately he was able to beat the condition but he now has to talk through a voice box. The studio had to recreate his voice for the few lines he had. This made the interaction between the 2 actors even more meaningful to me. At the end of the scene Ice fights through the pain and gives some final words of inspiration to Maverick. After a crazy aerial accident, Maverick is informed that Ice succumbs to his throat cancer. After the funeral, Maverick is removed as instructor. He is informed that the mission parameters have changed and it puts his pilots at higher risk of not making it home. This leads into my favorite part of the movie.
In order to prove to Admiral Cyclone the mission can be flown under Mavericks mission specs and give the pilots the highest probability of coming home he steals a plane sets the clock 15 secs shorter. This sequence to me is one of the most intense aerial sequences in the movie because of what it meant if he fail. This is where Maverick says my favorite line in the movie. "Maverick Inbound"!
The writing and the story telling of the movie was done very well. The story was more focused on the ability to get through the mission and not where the mission was taking place. The mission brief said the Uranium Plant was in territory controlled by a rogue nation. The movie was focused on the relationships, egos and abilities of the pilots. The action in the movie is what you see in the air. According to the pre-show announcement from Tom Cruise, all the plane sequences are real, the speed is real and the reactions are real. I felt it in every sequence, every explosions, every pull of the stick, I mean it really had you feeling like you were in the F-18 with them. The crew had to plan way in advance for the camera shots because they didn't have live feed tracking for the cameras that were in the plane.
There was an opening sequence that paid homage to the Tony Scott the director of the the first Top Gun. The crew of TG:Maverick believed that they got more cooperation from the Navy Crew because of the success of the first Top Gun.
When you can walk out of a movie and you're feeling triumphant and inspired, you just have to see it again!!
10/10: This is the reason why I go to the movies!!
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