Entertainment

What ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Can’t Repeat – Reagan-Era’s Patriotism


You cannot determine the initial success of “Top Gun” based on any one factor.

That’s right, Tom Cruise was at the top of his movie star game in 1986 (has that ever changed?). The soundtrack features iconic cuts like “Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away.”

The film doesn’t shy away from sexual issues, from Cruise and his co-star Kelly McGillis having an affair, to a topless scene playing volleyball for the ladies.

And, patted right in the middle of Reagan’s America, “Top Gun” salutes sans red, white, and blue.

The Far Left Vox explain the appeal of the movie: “Top Gun provided a smooth 110 minutes of Reagan-era American ‘exceptionalism’. Even US military veterans salute the filmpast and present.

That muscular narrative is gone, as old-fashioned as other ’80s relics like cassettes and parachute pants.

Modern Hollywood would rather delve into the nation’s flaws (“12 years a slave”, “Antebellum“), Executing the current war effort ( movies against the war in iraq) or reminiscing about the infamy of other countries (e.g. Blacklisted movies).

China’s booming film industry is actively patriotic, unafraid to incorporate pro-Communist messages into its stories. American movie? Not even close.

So that leaves “Top Gun: Maverick?”

Yes, Cruise is back, and he doesn’t look much different than he did 36 years ago. The movie promises more aerial combat, and few expect Cruise and his teammates to lose in any skirmish they encounter.

“Maverick,” repeatedly delayed by the pandemic, could also return Cruise to the top of the box office.

However, it won’t be the same.

RELATED: Why Tom Cruise’s ‘Thunderbolt’ Topped ‘Top Gun’

The sequels were never able to fully capture the original, from the sense of discovery to the energy gathered in the first round. However, the gap between films doesn’t end there.

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Each is a product of a very different American culture. The ’80s model was built on excellence, aggression, and the need to compete with “Evil Empire,” even if the Cold War wasn’t mentioned in director Tony Scott’s film.

“Top Gun” hit theaters around the same time Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone dominated the box office, bringing so-called “toxic masculinity” to the masses.

That drew audiences to theaters in the mid to late ’80s as much as the complicated stories.

Paramount worked directly with the US Army to provide authentic action sequences, and the Pentagon had the final say on how their toys were deployed on screen.

The new film has also collaborated with the US Navy to some extent, but it’s unlikely Paramount has handed over full control to the US government as it has before.

The government of China? That is another story.

Cruise’s signature “Top Gun” jacket was soon changed into production Taiwan’s patch has made strides to appease Chinese censors.

It’s just a small detail, but it’s a symbol of how much the film industry has changed since 1986.

Very few people have seen “Top Gun: Maverick” at this point. The film hits theaters nationwide on May 27, but a peep at the end of last month at Cinema Con showed no resemblance to the film’s patriotic fervor.

Now, the film can surprise all of us, even this cultural critic, and double down on the patriotism embedded in the original material.

Cruise himself suggests that won’t happen, though from an interview conducted four years after the original’s release.

Gizmodo recalls 1990 Playboy interview where Cruise condemns the rah-rah scene of “Top Gun.”

OK, some people feel that Top Gun is a right-wing movie to promote the Navy. And a lot of kids love it. But I want the kids to know that it’s not war – that Top Gun is just a ride in an amusement park, a fun movie with a PG-13 rating that isn’t supposed to be real.

That’s why I don’t continue to do Top Gun II, III and IV and V. That’s irresponsible.

Apparently Cruise has changed his mind about the sequel. Has anything else about his thinking evolved since that 1990 conversation?

RELATED: Richard Dreyfuss: Woke Will Kill America

“Top Gun: Maverick” may not be just another Hollywood sequel. It’s a perfect way to examine how filmmaking and American culture have changed over time.

Of course, a number of factors are beyond the control of the film.

“Top Gun” bows during the second term of President Ronald Reagan. The popularity of the Republican Party and willingness to bring down the Soviet Union had global consequences. One 2022 movie about a man called Gipper will share more about his remarkable vision.

“Top Gun: Maverick” is under President Joe Biden, a deeply unpopular leader who oversaw a cataclysmic retreat from Afghanistan and appears to be suffering from cognitive decline.

It was a completely different “Danger Zone”.



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