‘Top Gun: Maverick’: Like hitting a bullet with a bullet

Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ | Photo Credit: AP

More than 30 years after he took our collective breath away as Captain Pete Mitchell in Tony Scott’s Top Gun, Tom Cruise is back in the cockpit in Top Gun: Maverick. The film, which was delayed due to the pandemic, opens on May 27. Advance reviews have been universally warm and lauded director Joseph Kosinski’s skillful balance between nostalgia and new.

While the movie sees the return of Cruise (truly the last of the bonafide movie stars), Val Kilmer’s Iceman and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the cast boasts a bunch of shining stars including Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Ed Harris.

Guilt and redemption

Teller plays Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, a pilot training under Cruise. More importantly, Rooster is Goose’s son, who as we all remember died in a training accident in Top Gun. Played by Anthony Edwards, Goose was Maverick’s RIO (Radar Intercept Officer), and best friend. Though an inquiry clears Maverick of responsibility for Goose’s death, the burden of guilt lies heavy on him… Maybe looking out for Rooster offers Maverick a chance for redemption.  

Cruise had the best things to say of Teller’s performance likening the relationship between Maverick and Rooster, to “threading a needle tonally”. Teller returns the compliment saying, “Tom is the best. His work ethic is unparalleled. He is somebody who cares deeply about entertaining audiences. It is his attention to detail that separates him from anybody else.”

Picture perfect

Speaking over a video call, the 35-year-old actor says, “I had worked with Joe Kosinski, previously. The reason why I got the call initially was because several years ago he showed my picture to Tom in Paris. When they started talking about the script, they both thought that I could potentially be great in this role. Once I did get the part, it was a job I absolutely couldn’t say no to.”

And he went all in, including seven weeks of piano lessons to play ‘Great Balls of Fire’ in the bar. With real flying being part of the movie, Teller says, the training was rigorous. “We were training for about a year, flying pretty much all the time to be able to withstand the Gs and to be able to feel comfortable enough in the jet to give a performance.”

On the beach

While there were several fun memories associated with Maverick, Teller says the scene which is an homage to the original film was special. “All of us are on the beach, and having Tom share that moment with us was fun.”

With Top Gun being a favourite film for many of his friends, Teller says they told him not to mess it up. “When they found out I was playing Goose’s kid, they were nervous ( laughs). Hopefully, throughout a career you have a lot of opportunities where the stakes are pretty high. Just the fact that so many people are going to see this movie is a great position to be in.”

Classic and contemporary

Jerry Bruckheimer hopes to capture some of the nostalgia from the first movie and also give the audience something new. “It is certainly a new cast. Of course, we kept Tom because he is special. And he is Maverick.

Joseph Kosinski admits to feeling the pressure of making a sequel to a beloved film every day. “It pushed us all to do our best and try to live up to the standards the first film set. Tom described it as hitting a bullet with a bullet which is a great analogy and a great motivator.”

Kosinski’s first day of shoot on Maverick was all-around awesome. “I was standing out on the runway here in at North Island Naval Air Station, which is a few miles from where we are right now. We had the latest Ninja motorcycle out on the runway and we had an F/A-18 standing by. The car pulled up and Maverick stepped out in his leather jacket and Aviator sunglasses and that is when it hit me that we were making a Top Gun movie.”

Penny Lane

Jennifer Connelly’s rendition of Maverick’s love interest, Penny, which one review described as “bewitching,” is yet another happy callback to the original. The Oscar-winning actor describes Penny, a single mom and owner of a bar, as an optimist. “She is someone who approaches life with a great attitude and a sense of humour, about herself and about life’s challenges.”

While sailing a boat in windy San Francisco was thrilling, Connelly says, “Riding on the back of a motorcycle with Tom was pretty good.” Cruise, Connelly says, is extraordinary. “He was so lovely to me on set, lovely to my daughter who was at work with me a lot. He gives so much in every moment. He is so available and generous as an actor.”

Top Gun has a huge fan base, Connelly says. “It was not just me but everyone involved in the movie was very aware of that and wanted to make a movie that fans would enjoy and feel excited about. It definitely is respectful and pays homage to the original, but also goes somewhere else and has a reason to be in its own right.”

Connelly like Teller worked with Kosinski on Only the Brave. “Joe talked to me about the film and asked me what I thought about it. I was thrilled just to work with him again. I thought it was an exciting idea. When I read the script, I thought, they had done an interesting job of letting Maverick be in a different place in his life, and have a different kind of journey. It was surprisingly moving and a really well-told story.”

Eye of the cyclone
Shooting on an active aircraft carrier is a pretty intense experience, according to Jon Hamm who plays Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson. “You are essentially standing on a floating city, that has anywhere from 60 to 80 aircraft and nuclear reactors, which is quite a bit of explosive munitions. Those days were always exciting.”

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 2:39:59 pm |