The sequel to Top Gun (1986) will be released in 2019 on my birthday. I saw the original with a bunch of highschool friends, so it will be a trip down nostalgia alley. The original made me, naive country boy, dislike Cruise because I figured you can’t play an asshole without being an asshole, and I’d had my fill of assholes by then; but that’s ‘acting’ innit, and Cruise has since redeemed himself. I have no doubt he will return as Maverick in the sequel and fly them planes real purdy, but who will be his supporting cast?
Has to be said: I agree with Mav, who’d want to be wingman to this decrepit wreck? I don’t know how many dive bars there are in San Diego, but you’d need to be trawling the bottom to play wingman to Val Kilmer these days. Even if he doesn’t have throat cancer, Kilmer (57) looks like he does, whereas Cruise (55) still has the goods, and looks every bit the Hollywood heavyweight.
One smouldering question is who will they cast opposite Cruise as the hard-yet-sexy female lead? What combination of as-good-as-any-man + sexy-femme-fatale will they concoct from the bevy of available model-turned-actresses? Not that I care, so long as it isn’t Margot Robbie. But will they let her into the F-22 Raptor’s cockpit, given there are no female fighter pilots in the US? No matter the role, we sure as shit won’t see Kelly McGillis reprising the most cringe-worthy come-hither in modern cinematic history: ‘Take me to bed, or lose me forever!‘ because Maverick would definitely double-dingo that now.
But this isn’t a gratuitous exercise is unflattering before-and-after photos. I’m sure if my compulsive aversion to appearing in photographs had not been so obsessively well-maintained over the years then somebody could put together a then-and-now of Kaisson which would trigger a fight-or-flight reaction in most people. No, we all get older and fatter (except Tom Cruise and my wife), and none of us are entitled to snigger. No, I wonder at the timing of this film, which sat fallow for thirty years — why now? Lest we forget, they used Top Gun as a recruitment video in 1986 — is 2019 be any different, especially as for the first time in decades the danger is clear and present?
Gloomy political commentary aside for a second, given that the sequel is supposed to examine modern drone warfare, fifth generation fighters and the end of the exciting aerial dogfight, a further question is how we are supposed to get excited watching a nerd in a shipping-container full of computers paint a (I’m guessing) Middle Eastern target, then sitting back while the unholy bombardment begins? What’s entertaining about that? I suppose when the dust has settled we can send in the next wave of drones to see how much we’re ‘winning’.
If we want to get fair dinkum (what we say in ‘Straya), modern aerial warfare is dull. Stealth technology, supersonic avionics, long-range kills, one big yawn. You won’t ever go eyes-on with the enemy, everything’s either a red, amber or green dot on your HUD. A true modern-day Top Gun wouldn’t let the enemy within a hundred klicks of their position. Rather than hard-drinking, motorbike-riding, womanising A-types, the movie should really be an homage to Gus Van Sant, filled with thirty minute panoramic pans of these guys.
So here’s the plot: hard-yet-sexy female drone pilot in her 20’s retires to dive bar where she mutilates ‘I Got You Babe’ by Cher, seducing a burned-out has-been pilot (Cruise), who is whipped back into the cockpit for a last-ditch mission against The Evil Empire. I guess we’ll have to wait two years to find out if I’m right. I hope real-world events don’t supersede the movie and make it a bit tasteless. We can expect banal, cliched and jingoistic, but can we avoid tasteless, and not just because I wouldn’t mind seeing it on my birthday.