Top Gun: Maverick
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Val Kilmer, Jon Hamm
I didn’t see the first one, but I didn’t have to – the plot is simple: America has been poked with a stick by a nameless, faceless world enemy. Maverick (Tom Cruise) returns to teach a bunch of cocky Navy fighter pilots how to destroy the unrevealed foe. In between his spirited motivational speeches and toothy, cocksure, shit-eating grins, Maverick falls in love with the local bartender (Jennifer Connelly), hooks up with an ailing Iceman (Val Kilmer) one last time, and fixes his deceased friend’s son’s daddy issues. Somewhere towards the end of it all, Maverick prevents another world war.
Obviously, this summer blockbuster was sculpted to appeal to everyone in every part of the world. Anything that pertains to the premise of the story is spoken in generalities. There is never any character development. Sizable portions of the script are even lifted from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, yet the forced pro-US military message is always crystal clear.
Whenever Jon Hamm’s commanding officer appears, he seems neutered, while Connelly clocks in with the only believable performance of the film, but her role as a smoldering beer slinger doesn’t have enough screen time to make a difference in a film where Cruise gets billing above the title.
As predictable as Top Gun: Maverick is, I didn’t expect TC to look so young for being a 60-year-old man. He could pass for mid-thirties here – not a wrinkle or gray hair to be found. I wonder what sort of prep Cruise goes through before getting in front of a camera these days.
In his published diaries, Andy Warhol describes “gluing himself” before he went out to an event. He would literally glue one of his many wigs to his head, but the sticky process also included rituals of trying to maintain some semblance of his youth. I imagine Cruise has a team of round-the-clock technicians who are in charge of “gluing” old Tom together for every public appearance. Keeping an OT-8 deity of Scientology taught and moisturized at his age is surely a full-time gig.