Monday, July 4, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick – Pablum

Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun: Maverick.

Top Gun, which came out in 1986, was a Reagan-era special if there ever was one. It harked back to the flyboy epics of the late silent and early talkie era but eliminated everything that had made the best of them – Wings, Hell’s Angels, Only Angels Have Wings – witty, exciting and romantic, like three-dimensional characters and actors who drew on their own dimensionality to make them memorable, and substituted high gloss and displays of masculinity that would have looked embarrassing in Medieval times. There was plenty of action, but I can’t remember a single flying sequence that truly engaged the senses, let alone the brain. I would have skipped the long-delayed sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, but the director is Joseph Kosinski, whose true-life firefighter picture, the 2017 Only the Brave, is an unknown gem. So I opted to check it out. And it’s perfectly well directed, which is to say that you can sit through it without dozing off or looking for excuses to visit the lobby of your local Cineplex. But aside from the pristine cinematography by Claudio Miranda (who also lit Only the Brave and Kosinski’s Netflix sci-fi film, Spiderhead, which came right on its heels) and the climactic dogfight, Top Gun: Maverick is a stupid movie and a desperate exercise in picking the bare bones of a one-time commercial success that wasn’t any good to start with.