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Top Gun: Maverick–Targeting Its Audience

This aviator cinematic  sequel to the 1987 classic Tom Cruise movie, “Top Gun”, sees    Pete “Maverick” Mitchell  still having his  need for speed, Fast and Furious style. 

Top Gun: Maverick  picks up the story thirty years later, with Maverick still addicted to  testosterone-driven airborne risk.  Always a rogue, he has not made any high-ranking friends.  In the Top Gun academy to which he is now assigned a teaching role, not a combat pilot on a mission, Maverick comes face-to-face with Rooster Bradshaw (an underserved Miles Teller in this role), the son of Maverick’s deceased buddy.  And Rooster is still bitter and blames Maverick for the loss of his father .  Psychological games and conflict ensue on the ground and in the air. Add a romantic flirtation with an old girlfriend (the charming Jennifer Connelly) and her protective teenage daughter who doesn’t want her mother’s heartbroken again, and you have the basic storyline.

Maverick’s F-15 missiles target a uranium-enriching nuclear weapon facility (Iranian, of course).  Providing the adrenaline-pumping video-game simulation of war, Top Gun: Maverick resembles a digital game of cockpit fighting, evoking the iconic Star Wars TIE and X-Wing missile-hurling.   For fans of gravity-defying airborne speeds, with a generous dose of  military competition and bonding, recreating the dogfight vibe of the 80s, Top Gun: Maverick  will be thrilling.    Perhaps the only memorable interchange recreating the friendship between two Top Gun pilots is the scene between Maverick and a terminally-ill Iceman Kazansky (Val Kilmer), the admiral who wanted Maverick to teach a new generation of Top Gun pilots..

While the high-flying sequences require state-of-the-art technical cinematography and CGI special effects, Top Gun: Maverick could also have been a more fully developed  character study of what Maverick learned and refused to learn in his  more-than-thirty years’ service as a heroic, mission-impossible pilot under-appreciated, even humiliated for  his questioning authority. This Bruckheimer production, like almost all of his others, is first and foremost designed to be an intense thrill-ride, and the airplane aerobatics and flight sequences are indeed amazing. 

Still, while Top Gun: Maverick is worth-watching for the acrobatic pilot heroics, this viewer was left with a lingering sensibility that this film could easily be a military recruitment commercial.  Definitely a huge crowd-pleaser popcorn flick with a  nostalgic factor for those who have watched the first Top Gun, but this  sequel is fundamentally a homage to itself.

Availability:  Netflix DVD

Note:  This review reflects only 1% of Rotten Tomatoes reviews who did not give Top Gun: Maverick 4.9 out of 5 ratings.  Over 50K+ ratings in total.

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