A sequel that embodies the dated, aggressively patriotic undertones of its original 1986 film, yet, despite this, is still able to hold cultural relevance in our current social and political context.
⚠️ Heads Up! This review contains spoilers for Top Gun (1986) and Top Gun: Maverick (2022).
The Important Themes
It’s been 36 years since Tony Scott’s “Top Gun” was released in 1986 and now, we have been gifted with a sequel directed by Joseph Kosinski titled “Top Gun: Maverick”. The original 1986 film was a shameless endorsement of the aggressively patriotic values of Reaganism in 1980s America, making it a cultural relic of its time. To characterise the film's appeal to patriotism, the US Defence even had booths for signing up to the navy outside the original movie screenings. The sequel addressed these problematic undertones by making playful nods to this aggressive manifestation of patriotism, suggesting we shouldn’t take this film too seriously. Through its simple narrative and messaging, it provided a form of escapism for us as we indulged in some good old-fashioned 1980s sentiments, temporarily allowing us to forget the complexities of modern-day society.
A Nostalgic Return to the Original Film
“Top Gun: Maverick” was a sequel designed to pull at your heartstrings, with numerous nods to the original 1986 film. The opening scene was practically a frame-by-frame rework of the 1986 original with the same orange-hue shots of American fighter jets and the same synthwave soundtrack playing in the background. Notably, Miles Teller played the character “Rooster” introduced wearing a familiar Hawaiian shirt, while playing the piano and singing Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire”. – clearly a reference to the iconic scene from the original 1986 film that featured Rooster’s father and Maverick’s wingman, Goose, played by Anthony Edwards (see below an iconic Tok of Miles Teller)