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In Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise goes against Hollywood orthodoxy

The timing couldn’t be weirder for the sequel to arrive Top Gun: Maverick. Delayed by the confinement of Covid, the film presents itself to an audience of comic book superhero movies that was not even born when the original of “

I feel the need — the need for speed

” debuted in 1986 and launched Tom Cruise to stardom. The action franchise shows courage, glory and military ingenuity in the opposite of Hollywood’s support for the irritation and humiliation of the current regime – in such a way that the film’s cheering atmosphere can almost be confused with manifestations of the type America First [“EUA em primeiro lugar”, expressão patriótica usada por Donald Trump]. My guess is that the patriotic disguise is hollow and that Maverick, weak and formulaic, is a test.

Tom Cruise re-emerges in the role of popular naval aviator Captain Pete Mitchell, bringing him an inevitable aging maturity. Mitchell, now no longer an immature and inconsequential young man but still grinning avidly, shows the wrinkles of age and experience — and the moral sincerity of Cruise’s most recent memorable performances, especially in Minority Report and The War of the Worlds. Too arrogant for the military hierarchy (“You should be at least a two-star admiral by now, or at least a senator”), Mitchell also conjures up what we know of the [N. do T.: o autor se refere a investigações a respeito da saída dos Estados Unidos do Afeganistão no governo Biden. Deep State, literalmente Estado profundo, é um termo utilizado por Trump para se referir a setores do governo que não respondem à vontade do eleitorado e tramam coisas pelas costas dos pagadores de impostos.] pop star.

The scenes with Mitchell and the contemptuous Admiral Simpson (Jon Hamm) are culturally revealing — while the juvenile Cruise is a star; Hamm, in his shadow, who starred in the series Mad Men , is a television cliché. We root for Mitchell’s perseverance as if she were a success. After an astonishingly exciting flight scene in which Mitchell disobeys an order and exceeds Mach speed 10 [dez vezes a velocidade do som], he is demoted to a position to teach the new generation of recruits everything he knows about flying, fighting and camaraderie. These old-fashioned qualities (applauded by minor black characters who are there to fulfill their quota) are as far-fetched as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Following the wave of Hollywood sequels, the Maverick practically repeats the plot of the first

Top Gun. But director Joseph Kosinski doesn’t just replicate Tony Scott’s emphatic superficiality. Everything is optimized: the in-flight action scenes; Mitchell’s reunion with Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly), a mature and sensual barista from his past; and his former colleague “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer). All are reduced to advertising koans that Scott let pass for drama. (The scene with Kazansky is touchingly fraternal, but it’s also the shirtless beach soccer scene — obligatory version of Scott’s semi-homoerotic montage of volleyball, which in turn was a reinterpretation of Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl as if it were a beer commercial.)

As our culture absorbed Scott’s mediocre work, which was defining for the pure Paramount triviality of the years (of which Cruise is a perfect example), we cannot deny that star producer Cruise understands this manipulation perhaps even better than any other professional in contemporary cinema. In Maverick, Cruise and Kosinski innovate on Scott’s signature visuals—in fact, improve upon it. Kosinski (who astutely turned Cruise’s personal confessions into the science fiction and fantasy of Oblivion

) avoids video game “immersion” in favor of 2D spectacle and aerial beauty — cracks are more fun and more suspenseful than Paramount canned goods such as Hunt for Red October. The “thrill” of watching 2D aviators show off the right things for a dangerous mission completes the trade bargain. It’s familiar and comforting — especially given the recent loss of American military dignity and equipment to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Tom Cruise knows that if Hollywood is going to regain its connection with America’s self-respect after the last decade’s tide of international apologies and domestic racial protests, the answer may lie in entertainment that satisfies the need for speed. Speed ​​is basic to filmmaking — which comes from the Greek “kinesis” (movement), having to do with the visceral, emotional exercise known as catharsis. Maverick is not sensational entertainment like

Explosive Charge 3[dez vezes a velocidade do som] , Fury on two wheels, Transformers: Dark of the Moon or anything directed by Zack Snyder, but its simplicity is a challenge to the

recent bad hits (ie to Marvel). The combination of kinetic artistry and American power creates the test Cruise does with younger, cynical viewers.

Not necessarily a political test: the flight mission that takes young pilots to a nuclear plant somewhere in eastern Europe built in violation of a unilateral NATO treaty, and the “show me what you’re made of” challenge will not mean a lot for the public. Simpson’s threat to Mitchell’s rebellious behavior is more typical: “I have everything I need to get you court-martialed and dishonorable discharge” evokes the allegations and accusations heard from [Secretário da Defesa Lloyd] Austin, [“EUA em primeiro lugar”, expressão patriótica usada por Donald Trump] Esper, the [General Mark] Milley and the emissaries of the Deep State in the media. [N. do T.: o autor se refere a investigações a respeito da saída dos Estados Unidos do Afeganistão no governo Biden. Deep State, literalmente Estado profundo, é um termo utilizado por Trump para se referir a setores do governo que não respondem à vontade do eleitorado e tramam coisas pelas costas dos pagadores de impostos.]

Maverick is a distraction from this demoralizing political reality, without needing to fix it, yet it illustrates the flair of showman from Cruise that perhaps Americans are eager to believe in themselves once again. While the more recent James Bond films lack heroism, Cruise’s action films present a believable sense of bravery. This is cleverly hinted at when Mitchell ejects himself from the fighter and then walks into what looks like a coffee shop from the years and asks “where am I?” An astonished child replies “on Earth”. It’s a Back to the Future moment — like the references to a stable past in the Jerry Lee Lewis pop-music film and David Bowie to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who.

Both Maverick and the last one Mission: Impossible from Cruise feature a commercially consistent, neo-Hollywood product. Maverick is just average entertainment, but it is a significant gesture in the direction of regaining a lost virtue — American nostalgia. Cruise understands this—young ethnic and gender-diverse pilots merely concede what he already knows actually lifts audiences away from the malaise. Our hype driven media, by treating this banal film as if it were a national holiday, has little chance of taking Hollywood off the hook. your stupor.

©2022 National Review. Published with permission. Original in English.

1986

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