Barrett Brief Movie Review – Top Gun: Maverick Clears The Deck, Delivers The Goods

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Barrett Brief Movie Review – Top Gun: Maverick Clears The Deck, Delivers The Goods (4 out of 4 briefcases)

Summary: After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.

Genre: Drama, Action

Top Gun. The mere mention of it conjures up power suits and big hair. Of Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone” and the infamous volleyball scene. Very few things summed up the 80’s better than Top Gun. Rumors of a sequel have been bouncing around for the better part of 20 years. Now, after COVID delays, Top Gun: Maverick lands in theaters and it works. One of the best narratives when executed properly is the last ride of the wily veteran (think Tombstone). I don’t think anyone, especially Tom Cruise (Capt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell) thought when the first one was in theaters, that this would fit Maverick as a character. Modern tellings of this type of character would have had him more akin to Icarus, burning out after repeatedly flying too close to the sun, being called in to redeem himself. That isn’t the case. Is Maverick still flying combat missions? No. Now he is a test pilot, which perfectly suits his on the edge approach to life. When he is called in to help a new batch of recruits to train them on a nearly impossible mission, he must confront the baggage that one takes on during life in order to make sure that not only the mission is a success, but everyone comes home. 

Top Gun: Maverick delivers in spades. Much like Ghostbusters: Afterlife, it pays homage to the previous chapter and expands on the story, instead of using the tried and failed bait and switch formula that many studios have attempted lately. Maverick is nearly 60 and should be comfortably sitting behind a desk, but it just isn’t his nature. It certainly isn’t the type of attitude that is fit for teaching, but there he is. Being the last of his kind and trying to pass that off to students who think they know better helps build the tension as we approach the mission itself. The supporting cast delivers as well. 

 

The Last Flight 

Top Gun: Maverick is much like it’s star Cruise. Like him or hate him, he is the last movie star (now that Will Smith decided to smack himself out of a career). Top Gun: Maverick could very well be one of the last action-backed, no frills (i.e. woke) blockbusters we will see for a while, if ever again. The use of practical sets, a simplistic plot (I say this as a compliment, sometimes the story just needs to get out of the way and let the actors work their magic with it) and correct use of “happy ending” that we don’t see today. It’s belief in what the main character is doing and wanting the audience to see him achieve it. Does it hit you with the member-berries, yes (but I smiled ear to ear with all of them) and did I see some of the things coming a mile away, yes (but that only made me more excited when they came to). 

 The Cast

First off is Miles Teller (Lt. Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw), Goose’s son and emotion obstacle that Maverick has not gotten by. Teller plays the role perfectly and plays off Cruise well. Jennifer Connelly (Penny Benjamin) plays the female lead and while she doesn’t get a lot to work with, she plays it well. Her scenes are never feel like throw away moments and she doesn’t belittle Maverick for his “Toxic Masculinity”. It is close to man-woman complimentary dynamic as you are going to get in a modern blockbuster. Bashir Salahuddin (Bernie ‘Hondo’ Coleman), Jon Hamm (Adm. Beau ‘Cyclone’ Simpson), Charles Parnell (Adm. Solomon ‘Warlock’ Bates), Monica Barbaro (Lt. Natasha ‘Phoenix’ Trace), Lewis Pullman (Lt. Robert ‘Bob’ Floyd), Glen Powell (Lt. Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin) and the rest of the cast fill out nicely into their roles. Finally, Val Kilmer (Adm. Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky) returns and while it is sad to see how his health has impacted him, to have him back the way they did was not only respectful, but one of the highlights of the film. 

Highs & Lows

Highs: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Val Kilmer, callbacks 

Lows: Some weak dialogue  

Overall

Score: Top Gun: Maverick could very well be one of the last action-backed, no frills (i.e. woke) blockbusters we will see for a while, if ever again. So put your aviators on and enjoy the ride. 

4 out 4 briefcases 

Written by: LoneRhody


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Thanks for making me want to see the film. I was very concerned, like all of us, that it would be a woke film and would not want to watch.m, will now.


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