Red China may think twice about invading Taiwan after watching Top Gun: Maverick. The long belated sequel to the 1986 Tom Cruise favorite, Top Gun, showcases the extraordinary skill, stamina, intelligence, and gumption of today’s elite Navy fighter pilots — once they overcome some personal resentments. The main obstacle is the son, Rooster (Miles Teller), of Maverick’s late wingman, Goose (Anthony Edwards in the first film), blaming Maverick (Cruise) for his own career setback. Since both the complaint and Maverick’s reasoning for it are justified, neither stops Maverick from trying to turn Rooster into a top gun fighter ace. The realistic U.S. military hardware, prowess, comradery, and courage on display during this “ride into the danger zone” will cheer Americans while discouraging our enemies.
The result is the first film in years with believable male role models that is appealing to boys long deprived of them by modern entertainment.
Of course, under the incompetent SJW mentality currently in charge of the Pentagon, from President Biden down to General (“white rage”) Milley, $80 billion worth of incomparable weaponry was left behind in Afghanistan for the inspection and imitation by the Russians and Chinese. But thanks to Top Gun: Maverick, we can imagine, for a little while, that men like Maverick and Iceman (the great Val Kilmer poignantly reprising his role in the original) lead our troops — and hope our enemies believe the same.
Certainly, its reception helps. The film made a spectacular $124 million over the weekend, even before Memorial Day Monday’s take. It was Tom Cruise’s career best open (beating 2005’s War of the Worlds’ $65 million). The nearly $20-million Thursday gross became the highest in Paramount Pictures history. Credit goes to veteran producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, The Rock, Pirates of the Caribbean) who, unlike most of his hopelessly progressive peers, knew his business well enough to throttle back the wokeness while pouring on the excitement, sentiment, machismo, and nostalgia.
For instance, the film actually contains a main titles sequence — unlike almost every other movie today whose makers think the audience cannot wait to get into the usually inept story. And this particular sequence has special significance. Bruckheimer knew enough to label the film “A Don Simpson–Jerry Bruckheimer Production” in tribute to his old partner on some of the biggest blockbusters of all time, very much including Top Gun. Simpson died in 1996 of a drug overdose after years of hedonistic Hollywood self-indulgence, and had nothing to do with the sequel. Yet Bruckheimer knew enough viewers would remember and appreciate the credit. The sequence features a fun ’80s-style montage of Navy fighter jets rocketing off aircraft carriers and zipping through the air, plus the crewmen keeping them flightworthy. And the music playing throughout is not some assaultive rap song as almost every film today would have but Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone, an integral, iconic theme of the original.
The result is the first film in years with believable male role models that is appealing to boys long deprived of them by modern entertainment. Just seeing believable military men — rather than ridiculous superheroes — fulfilling a difficult duty before and during a mission has immense worth to them, which cowboys and policemen used to provide until the Left canceled them as toxic. Also making the picture a huge hit are patriots long tired of Hollywood’s relentless attack on their values, and of seeing the armed forces turned into woke experiments.
The producers defied another modern entertainment industry requisite — obsequence to China. In the original Top Gun, Maverick proudly wears his father’s bomber pilot jacket with patches displaying the flags of Taiwan and Japan, nation allies on his old man’s missions. Then a 2019 trailer for the sequel showed the jacket patches altered into unrecognizable symbols. The flag removal clearly pacified the Chinese market discomforted by a motion picture hailing U.S. military might.
Yet a great deal changed over the two-year delay of the film’s release due to COVID-19. China became more threatening to Taiwan and Japan — and Republicans more critical of it. The pressure proved too risky for a Chinese company co-financing Top Gun: Maverick. According to the Wall Street Journal, Tencent Holdings withdrew its 12.5 percent stake in the movie. And, by a strange coincidence, when Tom Cruise dons the famous jacket early in the sequel, you can see the two flag patches digitally restored.
Such a simple act of courage was unnecessary 36 years ago. Top Gun came out at the zenith of President Reagan’s restoration of the U.S. military and his decrying of Soviet Russia as an “evil empire.” Many ’80s films reflected the spirit of the time: Rambo: First Blood Part II, Red Dawn, The Hunt for Red October, others. But Top Gun: Maverick deserves praise for resisting current realpolitikal pressure.
It is not a total rejection. The film’s primary “mission impossible” is the destruction of a nuclear weapons facility in a hostile country about to go active in defiance of an arms treaty with Washington. The country is obviously Iran, but given Joe Biden’s pathetic deference to Tehran, it is never named in the movie.
And wokeness, though far more subtle than in almost every other picture, does rear its head, primarily in the sex and gender department. Top Gun at least acknowledged sexual desire and differences, characterized by Tom Cruise embarrassingly serenading a sultry Kelly McGillis in a bar with “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” and Goose’s concerned wife (Meg Ryan). Top Gun: Maverick presents a squad of attractive young men in peak physical shape showing zero interest in the opposite sex, only partying and playing football like schoolboys. Typically, the awkwardly forced female top gun pilot (Monica Barbaro) acts the most macho. Even Maverick’s romance with a bar owner played by Jennifer Connelly is more suggested than depicted. As outstanding as Top Gun: Maverick is from the rest of the current cinematic herd, it really has lost that loving feeling.
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