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Top Gun : Maverick - Evergreen highway into the danger zone

"I feel the need, the need for speed". Those immortal lines were uttered 36 years ago in Top Gun (1986) by the ageless Tom Cruise. Since then, while the rest of us mere mortals have aged like Val Kilmer and Kelly McGillis, and are epitomes of the other famous dialog from that, "son, your ego is writing checks that your body can't cash", that son of a bitch still looks pretty much as he did back then.

Just saw Top Gun : Maverick, the thrilling sequel in a full Dolby theater, with every flyby reverberating around and the seats vibrating giving the feeling of being in the pilot's seat. This is the kind of movie to be watched in a theater - a summer blockbuster, adrenaline and testosterone fueled state of the art technological thrill ride, headlined by a global action superstar with charisma to burn and a million watt smile, the kind of movie frankly only Hollywood and the US can make (sorry Bollywood, Tollywood, Sandalwood, Akshay Kumar, Allu Arjun etc). It has everything that Veeru talked about from the water tank in Sholay (1975) - "iss kahaani mein drama hai, tragedy hai, emotion hai" aur oopar se dhamaakedar action bhi hai.

He is still Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell refusing a promotion and being the cocky iconoclast pushing the envelope literally in his plane as well as figuratively against the system. He is called in to mentor a new mission with a new bunch of top guns, which includes Bradley "Rooster" Bradhsaw, son of his dead partner Goose. Miles Teller playing the son bears an uncanny resemblance to his father who had been played by Anthony Edwards. There are several nods to the original - from a bald commanding officer to the rivalry and verbal sparring within the team. (speaking of which, Iceman (Kilmer) has an emotional cameo). Penny Benjamin who was referred to in one throwaway line as the admiral's daughter in the original as one of Maverick's multiple lady conquests, is now full fledged in this one played by Jennifer Connelly. Being set now in the 2020s, there is a lot more diversity in the team with women and minorities being part of the elite crew, compared to the original which was whiter than a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. But in the end, it is a Tom Cruise vehicle thru and thru, and deservedly so. At 60 years, (jeez once again gives me heartburn just saying it), he physically looks and does things that guys half his age can only dream about. May he long continue to ride the highway into the danger zone.

June 4, 2022

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