Director: John Kosinski

Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly

Year: 2022

First, you need to know how much I love Top Gun.  I not only watched it too early & too often, but I grew up with it by my side, like it was my babysitter & I its little charge.  I memorized it, I idolized it, I loved it, and I still do; it’s one of less than 20 movies that I’ve ever rated as perfect films.  Now, do I think it’s a perfect film?  Maybe not, but my love fills in the tiny gaps …and it is pretty damn awesome.  I was worried, therefor, about the sequel so many years later, an obvious cash grab that will use nostalgia to rope us in.  I was in anyway, I would watch regardless, but I really hoped the non-nostalgic parts would be good so I didn’t have to give one of my favorite movie’s little brother a bad report.  But I wasn’t in charge of content, no one asked me, and, apart from the nods & the jets, the rest really sucked.

Pete Mitchell is still out there flying fast planes, but he’s been such a wildcard over the years that he’s never really advanced up the ranks of the US Navy, never made a name for himself or done anything outstanding.  He’s a bit of a screwup, a hothead, a little shit maybe, but we still love him, and he’s still very brave …or just plain dangerous.  When the Navy needs a trainer for a top secret mission, they ask Maverick to come back to Top Gun to teach a squad of young pistols how to maneuver a tricky mission, one from which they might not make it back alive.  But among the group is Goose’s son, now all grown up, and holding a grudge against Mav, the man who killed his father.

First, the nostalgia was there and it was awesome.  They chose the right music, made the right mentions, brought back the right characters, hit us in all the feels, and I enjoyed the movie for that.  Having Ice back was a nice touch, and if you haven’t watched Val you need to immediately, because you can’t understand what this meant to Kilmer without watching that doc first, so see it; it’ll break your heart.  And the jets were cool, the training sessions were fun, the dogfights were nice; all the elements you needed from a Top Gun followup and from a Tom Cruise action flick were present.  All that was left to do was to bolster the entertainment value with some solid young actors and write a half-assed script …which apparently was just too damned hard.

The story was basic, but fine, whatever, KeepItSimpleStupid, I understand.  But the script was *ridiculous*, and the plot fell apart amid a hundred tropes and a thousand bad decisions.  They had the building blocks and they screwed it up; there were like a dozen writers, and oh boy could you tell.  So the story was all over the place, and the dialogue was abyssal (it’s not the plane …it’s the pilot), but, honestly, I would have still forgiven it, because I wanted to, if it hadn’t have been for the acting.  Miles Teller …sucks.  He’s bad, and then they surrounded him with even worse, tossaway pseudo-characters that I couldn’t have cared less who died.  From the bar scene where you meet the crew on, I knew we were in deep shit, as the acting got worse and the motivation got worser; even Cruise simply didn’t feel like Mav, he felt like Tom.  What ultimately saves the film from crashing and burning is that we want to love it, it knows that, and it does just enough to keep us voluntarily holding on.  It could have been more disastrous, but I wish it had been a *whole* lot better, and anyone who says this movie is an Oscar contender might have their finger on the pulse, what do I know, but if they think that’s justified they also have a screw loose.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆