Given that 1980s nostalgia is a frequent topic here, some of you have asked me how I feel about the upcoming sequel to Top Gun, which has been titled, Top Gun: Maverick.
I should probably first say a bit about my experience of the first one. Top Gun was released to theaters in May of 1986, now 36 years ago. I was just getting out of high school then.
I have always had a liking for action movies, so of course I saw it. I enjoyed Top Gun, but (let’s be honest here), I also found it somewhat lightweight and forgettable.
Top Gun was conceived, written, and produced at the height of the Reagan era, when triumphalist Cold War films were all the rage. This was also the era of Rambo, Red Dawn, and a Rocky film that sent Rocky Balboa to Moscow to face down a Soviet boxer.
Don’t get me wrong, here: I would have voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984 had I been old enough. So if you’re looking for any whining about healthy patriotism or a strong defense policy, you’ve come to the wrong place.
But that same schtick gets boring, film after film. Top Gun, for me, was never much more than a predictable date movie. Another war movie of 1986, Platoon, struck me as far more thoughtful and serious…much as I came to disagree with Oliver Stone on other matters in later years.
The first Top Gun seemed to have had the biggest impact on younger GenXers who were in grade school or junior high when it came out. One of my former work colleagues, who is eight years my junior, was ten years old in the summer of 1986. He has told me that Top Gun became a virtual obsession for him that year.
What about the sequel? Based on the trailers, I actually think that it might turn out to be better than the first one. I miss the 1980s, in many ways; but the 80s were not, on the whole, a great decade in film.
It has also been noted that Top Gun: Maverick includes at least one female fighter pilot role, that of Phoenix, played by Monica Barbaro.
Speaking again of my high school years: at least two women from my class served in the US Armed Forces after graduation. I did not. So women fighter pilots in the Top Gun sequel are okay with me.
On the whole, I’m looking forward to seeing the new Top Gun movie, which will hit theaters on May 24. Should be a fun time.