By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
A trailer for a movie dropped just a few days ago, and when I heard on the radio that actor Tom Cruise was making a sequel to Top Gun, I must confess, I came close to laughing out loud. Rosemary Dewar Stainbrook, our writer for the Millennial Mind is back after a long hiatus, and we are clicking our heels. We talked at length as we polished her latest article, which in large part deals with an appalling lack of creativity on all fronts in our culture. She made sure to mention that most movies these days are either takeoffs on past themes or out and out remakes, and most music has to include samples of some kinds. It was in that context that I looked into what could possibly inspire someone to invest in a sequel to a monster hit from 36 years ago that has the protagonist occupy the same slot, er, cockpit. More simply stated, how could anyone buy into the idea that the guy can pick up where he left off other than Tom Cruise has had some pretty fancy plastic surgery and the music is unquestionably timeless?
Well, apparently, I am being entirely too cynical, if you believe the people who were a part of the film as well as the fans of the classic flick who hail from all age groups. And here’s the spoiler, a part of me is so glad that viewers will have the chance in their lifetime to get at least a small idea of what Top Gun pilots actually do that I hope I get to join them on the big screen. The sky-punching shots are no doubt going to be worth the price of admission all on their own.
But, can set-your-hair-on-fire footage from the cockpit carry the entire movie? Thankfully, I am told it doesn’t have to due to the fact that there is an actual story that probably will hit everyone somewhere — what to do with broken relationships — and that just might be deep enough to keep this from emotionally missing the tailhook and falling off the end of the aircraft carrier. In the original, Cruise’s character, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, lost in an accident (for which he blames himself) his best friend and wing man, whose call sign was “Goose.” Goose had a son on the way when he died, and the young man blames Maverick for the death of the father he never met. How they manage to work through that may be a triumph or a trainwreck, and I am hopeful that there is some “there, there.”
Then, there is the return of Val Kilmer, who in the original played “Ice Man,” Maverick’s arch rival. In real life Kilmer has been in the fight of his life with throat cancer, and it was at Cruise’s insistence that he return to make this movie with him, even with a voice that one may not be able to listen to because of the damage. Ice Man went on to become an admiral, and he specifically requested the return of his “frenemy” to Top Gun to help him teach the youngsters who are as cocky as Maverick and Ice Man were back in the day, which takes some doing.
You may be asking why in the world this All Things Soldier column is dedicated to something that may turn out to be terrible, and a Hollywood movie at that. Because everybody, active duty, never served, retired needs to see what happens when a community is forged, tried, stretched, humbled, broken in places, and is re-born. That’s where we are in America, and this might just help.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner