Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Top Gun: Maverick
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Written by Peter Craig, Justin Marks, Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie
It was 1986, when world renowned Superstar Tom Cruise donned a pair of Ray Ban Aviators and introduced us to the phrases “Danger Zone!”, “I feel the need; The need for speed!”, and “You can be my wingman anytime”. With an 80’s pop soundtrack and a cast that included Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins, and Tom Skerritt, this film had tremendously increased the US Navy recruitment rates by over 500%. Talk about quite the impact of a film that also grossed 176 million against a budget of just 15 million. Now over thirty six years later, Tom Cruise is back in the cockpit as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. This film has quite a number of writers with two for story and three for screenplay. Yet the team of writer’s have delivered a solid film with just the right balance of nostalgic callbacks to the first film and a multilayered storyline stacked against a stunning series of non-CGI practical stunt visuals in real jets. This film earns my “Writing a Movie RIGHT” review.
Here comes the spoilers.
We wake up with our hero, Maverick as he works on his beautiful P-51 Mustang plane and then gets on his motorcycle to head in to work as a test pilot for a hypersonic scramjet under a project called “Darkstar”. When he arrives to work he is met with the team who informs him that a Rear Admiral Officer is head there to shut down the program. Maverick insists they proceed with their test flight with the ahead of schedule speed goal of Mach 10. He meets the speed goal, but instead of slowing down he pushes the plane into high hypersonic and ends up destroying it. The Rear Admiral wants to ground him for his actions, but instead sends him to North Island as a Top Gun instructor as ordered by Maverick’s friend and former rival from the first film, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky who is now the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
He arrives and meets with his new superiors who immediately let it be known they do not agree with the Admiral’s decision for Maverick to train pilots. They present to him an urgent mission to bomb a uranium enrichment plant that sits inside of deep pit between a canyon and a tall mountain. The plant is heavily fortified with surface-to-air missiles and 5th Generation fighter jets. Maverick suggest an attack with Super Hornets which will fly through the canyon and destroy the plant. They have brought the “best of the best” pilots in for this training and one happens to be the son of Maverick’s late best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (played solid by Miles Teller). The aviators are put to training in dogfighting immediately as Maverick knows they will potentially have a dogfight to get out of the airspace alive. It takes a bit of time, but the pilots begin to understand the parameters that Maverick has set for timing to target and speed is crucial for them to have time to get back home safely. The pilots attempt many times to navigate a simulated canyon course to practice timing and none can seem to make it on time.
Maverick gets a message from Iceman and he goes to see him. When he arrives to his home Iceman’s wife informs Maverick that Iceman has throat cancer and doesn’t have long. Their sit down and conversation is perhaps the most poignant of the film. Days later Iceman passes and the Rear Admiral grounds Maverick and sets new mission parameters with more time which means the pilots have greater risk of not surviving the mission. Maverick takes an unauthorized flight top show them that the canyon can be navigated at the original speed parameters. The Rear Admiral is finally convinced and he makes Maverick the strike leader.
The rest of this film is a love letter to pilots who dare to push themselves to the limits of G forces and a beautiful sendoff to a character that has been a part of cinema for over three decades. Kudos to the Navy for allowing the actors to fly in these jets and to the actors for taking on the G’s. Try to see this in IMAX or any 4D Theater as you will NOT be disappointed! There are a couple fast twists and turns closing this story out, but it goes by so fast you will be leaving the theater with the need…the need for speed!
Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.
Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.