Cruise still maverick enough to draw crowds



It says a lot for Tom Cruise’s pulling power that Top Gun: Maverick is hailed as the first post›Covid blockbuster, netting the veteran actor his first $100 million+ weekend.

I watched the original Top Gun for the first time online, a couple of hours before going to the sequel and found myself grinning at what we thought was cool back then:

Whooping high fives, exaggerated gum chewing, mirror›shade swaggers and collars somehow being the most impressive part of clothing.

The cliches and cheesiness were state›of›the›art for Cruise’s signature movie, but the presumably niche ‘‘fighter jet’’ genre, which must fly right by many viewers, clearly has mainstream appeal as the 2022 film opened with bitchin’ glam› metal and a solid montage of angular, noisy weapons and heroic poses echoing directly back to 1986.

Cruise’s titular Maverick is still the rebellious loner the US grudgingly needs to ‘‘push the envelope’’.

With dignified cool he faces up to his impending obsolescence at the hands of pilotless drones, and reports for duty back at the Air Force Top Gun Academy, to school hotshots half his age how to bomb some uranium enrichment in a rogue state.

The heavy but deft hand of producer Jerry Bruckheimer co›pilots through the pacing issues and absurdities to ‘‘buzz the flight tower’’ of audience belief.

Breathtaking visuals are commonplace nowadays and Top Gun: Maverick has plenty.

The attractive and modernly diverse cast, the romantic subplot between Cruise and an American›accented Jennifer Connelly, and thematic focus on team and individual excellence keep the wings on this high› spirited celebration of militarism, and though production began in 2018, Top Gun: Maverick’s popularity is curious in newsfeeds punctuated by the carnage and destruction in Ukraine.

The film offers an interesting case study on the popularity of upcoming blockbuster movies in our new post›Covid world.

Boosting popcorn sales with fast action and pushing the envelope of parody, ageing Gen›Xers are keen see Tom show everybody: we’re still the best of the best.