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Friday, December 02, 2022

‘Top Gun’ and Tom Cruise are back in the danger zone

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — In 1983, producer Jerry Bruckheimer was flipping through the May issue of California magazine when he was struck by a story. Read the title “Top Guns”, with a large photo from inside the cockpit of an F-14 fighter jet. The story began: “At Mach 2 and 40,000 feet from California, it’s always high noon.”

“I saw that cover and I said, ‘We have to do this. It looks great,'” Bruckheimer recalls. “It’s ‘Star Wars’ on Earth.”

And at the box office, “Top Gun” nearly reached “Star Wars” proportions. 1 film of 1986, a rocket-boosted, testosterone-fueled sensation that established then-24-year-old Tom Cruise as a major star. It played homeoerotic games of beach volleyball in bomber jackets, aviator sunglasses and hip jeans as it did military service. In the jingoist Reagan-era ’80s, “Top Gun” was about as American as it gets. Navy sets up recruitment tables in theaters, Enrollment increased.

If all that — go-go patriotism, a star-led blockbuster, magazines — sounds like time ago, it was. But nearly four decades later, and after sitting on the shelf for two years because of the pandemic, “Top Gun: Maverick” is flying into a whole new world.

The film, directed by Joseph Kosinski, features a new mission to win and a dogfight to wage. But this time the task of ‘Top Gun’ is looking even more heavy. It’s here, in a CGI, Marvel world, to prove that a propulsive brand of moviemaking fueled by star power, practical effects, and filmmaking prowess can call the need for speed.

“I wanted it to have an old-school feel,” says Kosinski, director of “Tron: Legacy” and “Oblivion.” As Maverick is going back to Top Gun, I wanted to take the audience back to that type of filmmaking. ,

Paramount Pictures suspends production of “Top Gun: Maverick” As for streaming, there’s been a military-grade push behind the sequel. After boarding the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego (where Cruise arrived by helicopter ) a worldwide promotional tour including stops at the Cannes Film Festival (where Cruz received an honorary Palme d’Or) ) and a royal premiere in London, The film finally opens in theaters on Friday.

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But where countless decades later sequels have crashed and burned, “Top Gun: Maverick” may be a retro-blockbuster that succeeds—and perhaps even rivals—the original. The film does have some advantages, most notably the seeming anxiety of its 59-year-old star.

But “Top Gun: Maverick,” in which a middle-aged Maverick returns to an elite aviation training program to train a new generation of flying aces (among them Rooster, the hot-headed son of Goose, played by Miles Teller) , is an action adventure that reimagines a high-flying filmmaking style with modern day technology. With visceral aerial visuals filmed inside the cockpit and a surprisingly emotional story brimming with memory and loss, “Top Gun: Maverick” rekindles an adventurous spirit for the digital times.

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Early in the film, a skeptical general played by Ed Harris tells Maverick that his kind is headed for extinction, a relic that will soon be replaced by automation. Maverick replied with a smile, “Not today.”

“In the movie, he’s talking about her as an aviator. But looking at it last week, it looked like Tom Cruise was talking about the movie business,” says Kosinski. “In the age of streaming, he Still making a really, really strong case for the theatrical experience.”

But is a new “Top Gun” as fit today as it was in Reagan’s ’80s original? The original “Top Gun” was not a hit with critics. Pauline Kell called it a “flashy gay ad”, a thread that was picked up by Quentin Tarantino in 1994’s “Sleep With Me”, when he, as an actor, described it as “a story about a man’s struggle with his homosexuality.” story” was told.

Others saw a Pentagon-backed recruiting film, punctuated by patriotism, and a portrait of American individualism set against a faceless, countryless enemy. A lot of them still exist in “Maverick” – there’s no shortage of disobey orders and the bad guys remain a blank slate. But Kosinski called the film about the intimate culture of aviators the most important.

“It seems to me that the theme of the first film and the theme of the first film is not really about politics. It’s really about friendship, camaraderie, competition, sacrifice,” says Kosinski. “That’s what we wanted to do on this film in a very objective way. We have created an imaginary adversary. The mission itself is about keeping the world safe. It’s not about the attack. It’s really about the relationship between Maverick and Rooster.”

In 2012, momentum was starting to gather for the sequel. The director of the original film, Tony Scott, was meeting with Bruckheimer at the Naval Fighter Weapons School known as Top Gun in Nevada. Scott killed himself a few days later.

“We were definitely suspicious that this was going to happen,” Bruckheimer says. “But we were still interested in trying to make the film.”

Bruckheimer brought in Kosinski, who directed Cruise in the 2013 science-fiction adventure “Oblivion.” Knowing from that experience how Cruise would react, Kosinski focused his attention on the character and on the actor’s emotions. He and Bruckheimer went to Paris to meet Cruise during the shooting of a “Mission: Impossible” movie. The director, who came up with the poster titled “Top Gun: Maverick”, had 20 minutes to make his point.

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“At the end of that meeting, Tom stood up and he went on the phone and he called the head of the studio and said, ‘We’re making this movie,'” Kosinski says. “I mean, it’s an actual movie star who can flag off a movie with one phone call.”

The cruise had certain conditions. One was that Val Kilmer, who has difficulty speaking after throat cancer and multiple trachea surgeries, returns to play Iceman. (The actor makes brief but poignant appearances.) Another was that all actors playing pilots must be trained to ride in an F-16 and withstand high G-forces. On the original, only Cruise managed it.

“Tom devised a way to train the actors. In the first one, when he put them in the air with a camera in the cockpit, everyone threw them. We didn’t have any useful footage. They had their eyes in their heads.” Were rolling back,” Bruckheimer says. “Tom said, ‘Listen, we have to figure out a way to put our actors in there so they can handle the G-forces.

It took 15 months, says Bruckheimer, to work with the Navy, lawyers and film crew to figure out how to have six cameras in the cockpit. The actors who played the pilots – Glenn Powell, Monica Barbaro, Greg Tarzan Davis, Danny Ramirez, Lewis Pullman and Jay Ellis – were trained over three months to prepare for the velocity of F-18 flights.

“Some actors said, ‘I won’t do this. I’m afraid to fly.’ So we lost some talented people who weren’t committed to making the film the way we did it,” Bruckheimer says. “Most of the pilots we worked with in this current film said they joined forces because they had previously joined ‘Top Gun’.”

So “Top Gun” has already proven it can have a lasting impact in the real world. “Top Gun: Maverick” is hoping to show that, when done well, big Bruckheimer-style blockbusters can still outdo anything else in theaters or at home.

“This film is looking to the future,” Kosinski says. “Not only the past.”

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Follow Associated Press Film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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