I thoroughly bought in by the second half of Top Gun Maverick (directed by Joseph Kosinski), the long postponed follow-up to the 1980’s machismo cult favorite. The dramatic pauses made me giggle a bit in the first half as did the intensely serious military explanations. But not a big deal, simply like jumping into a cold pool or ocean, giggling helped me adjust.
The goofs stopped when I was moved deeply by Val Kilmer’s brave presence as Maverick’s (Tom Cruise, the man the myth, the legend) old buddy with cancer. This is both clever writing and as I just said, shows what a courageous man Val Kilmer is (if you haven’t seen his documentary, do so, better yet, read his memoir I’ll Be Your Huckleberry which is better organized and a pure testament to love and his gratification).
Props go to all the minor characters, but especially to those already famous: Jon Hamm and Ed Harris. The wing man role was played with panache by Miles Teller, who since Whiplash and one rom com I don’t have time to look up right now, he’s been stuck in mediocre roles. This isn’t Oscar caliber (due to the writing, not him), but it’s nice to see him get so much screen time.
Ok, here’s where I’ll solidify my whining (before I promise to get back to grateful in the finale):
1. Jennifer Connelly seemed a bit washed out to me. I mean, yes, she’s a single Mom who’s a bartender with a Ferrari (? ok, I guess, sounds like Florida money), but the writers could have brought a little sexy back along with the speed. But perhaps it’s against Cruise’s Scientology restrictions (thou shalt not enjoy carnal relations). I mean even if they wanted to just tone it down to strictly romance, this could have easily been done by throwing Kenny Loggins a few bills to use Sweet Reunion (in the scene where she leaves the door open). Perhaps the powers that be wanted to keep the testosterone at a premium and were worried about injecting any soy (that’s a good joke if you know nutritional side effects). With a touch of sweetness, even if it’s Splenda, the movie would have added a nuanced layer.
But back to my genuflecting: we needed this movie in the screwed up world right now, where good guys win, they laugh, play football, get the pretty woman and we hear some good tunes (props to the soundtrack-oldies of The Who and Foghat did add more fun). Tom Cruise is poised, chivalrous and determined to succeed. God Bless him and America on this Memorial Day Weekend.