Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski says the action movie sequel, set to be released 33 years after the original film swooped into theaters, will adapt its depiction of the Navy and its aviators to be more in step with modern times. Kosinski is taking over the directorial reins of Top Gun from the late Tony Scott, with Tom Cruise set to reprise his iconic role as loose-cannon fighter pilot and occasional shirtless beach volleyball player Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Val Kilmer has expressed his desire to return as the character of Iceman, though nothing has been confirmed on that front.
The original Top Gun became a box office smash largely thanks to its exciting aerial sequences, which were carried out with the cooperation of the Navy, and featured real ace pilots executing real dogfighting maneuvers. Though the aerial sequences were well-executed and effective by themselves, the story circumstances that led into these combat scenes were necessarily a little contrived, given that the United States was not actually at war with Russia or anyone else at the time the film was made. The lack of real war-time tension to draw from did not deter Tony Scott from crafting one of the more overtly pro-military movies seen on American screens post-Vietnam.
Speaking to ComingSoon, Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski discussed the different world we live in today and how the new film will adapt in its portrayal of the Navy given this new reality:
The Navy is very different now than it was in 1986. Back then, they hadn’t been in any war for 15 or 20 years at that point. The tone of that movie and what those guys were doing was very different. Now, here in 2017, the Navy’s been at war for 20 years. It’s just a different world now, so you can’t remake the first movie. It has to adapt. That being said, I certainly want to recreate the experience of that movie, which gives you a front-seat into the world of Naval aviation and what it’s like to be in a fighter jet. The approach is going to be appropriate for the times we live in.
Unlike the 1986 film, the 2019 sequel won’t have to strain credibility by making up tense combat situations involving American fighter pilots. With the United States involved in on-going combat in various places around the world, not to mention the increasingly-tense situation developing around North Korea, recently-hired Top Gun: Maverick screenwriter Eric Singer should have no problem dreaming up plausible scenarios that challenge the fighter pilot moxie of Maverick and his fellow jet-propelled hot shots.
The original Top Gun is a slick and well-crafted piece of entertainment to be sure, but if there’s a weak element to it at all, it’s the feeling that the military stakes are just not all that high. The movie’s final fight sequence, in which Maverick finally proves himself as a fighter jock and a team member, can’t help but feel a bit anti-climactic after the drama with Goose and the intense love story between Maverick and Charlie, and it’s made even worse by the fact that you don’t really feel the tension of the moment as the Navy pilots square off against Russian MiGs in a scenario that lacks a sense of convincing geo-political context.
If Top Gun: Maverick has an advantage over the original film, it’s that it will be taking place in a world where there is a ton of real international tension, giving Joseph Kosinski a chance to craft combat scenes that do tie-in with the real world in a meaningful way and thereby raise the emotional stakes for the characters. Top Gun: Maverick may successfully achieve a heightened sense of drama that the original simply was unable to attain, but it remains to be seen if that will lead to a legitimately entertaining experience. As far as the actual flying scenes go, Tom Cruise has promised there won’t be CGI, but that could change as the movie’s production goes ahead.
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