February 4, 2023

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‘Top Gun’ Culture and Reality

2 min read

Tom Cruise portrays Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in a scene from “Top Gun: Maverick.”


Paramount Pictures via Associated Press

‘Top Gun: Maverick” crushed box-office debut records over Memorial Day weekend, and it’s worth asking why. Could this be an entertainment phenomenon that says something larger about the current moment in American culture?

No doubt many are showing up to see

Tom Cruise,

who plays U.S. Navy fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, as he did in the original “Top Gun” in 1986. But the movie’s opening weekend outperformed the box office for Mr. Cruise’s other hits such as the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. It’s no easy feat to stick the landing of a sequel more than three decades after the first movie.

Maverick trains fighter pilots for a mission against an unidentified enemy, though the Journal reports the film lost a Chinese investor over its pro-America bent. The movie’s makers, reportedly after some debate, declined to scrub Taiwanese and Japanese flags off Maverick’s bomber jacket. By the low standards of Hollywood, which is typically prepared to placate the Communist Party in search of Chinese box office, we’ll count this as courage.

The movie is drawing some older folks back to theaters after the long Covid absence from theaters, but let’s better hope this paean to fighter aviation captures the imagination of younger Americans. For years the Navy and the Air Force have been short of fighter pilots. The picture is…

2022-06-01 19:02:00

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