NEW YORK – In 1983, producer Jerry Bruckheimer was flipping through a May issue of a California magazine when he was struck by history. “Top Guns” read the headline with a large photo inside the cockpit of an F-14 fighter. The story began: “At Mach 2 and 40,000 feet above California is always noon.”
“I saw this cover and said, ‘We have to do this.’ It looks great, “Bruckheimer recalls.” It’s Star Wars on Earth. “
And in the rental “Top Gun” has almost reached the size of “Star Wars”. It was the No. 1 movie of 1986, a sensation with rocket boost and slowed testosterone that made then-24-year-old Tom Cruise the main star. She made bomber jackets, aviator sunglasses and played homoerotic beach volleyball games in jeans just as she served in the army. In the ’80s, Reagan-era jingist“ Top Gun ”was about the same American. Naval forces set up recruiting tables in theaters. The number of servicemen has increased.
If all this – patriotism go-go, star blockbuster, magazines – sounds like it used to be. But nearly four decades later, and after sitting on the shelves for two years because of the pandemic, “Top Gun: Maverick” is flying full throttle into a new world.
The film, directed by Joseph Kosinski, has a new mission to win and fight air battles. But this time the task of “Top Gun” feels even more difficult. He is here to prove to the world of CGI, Marvel, that an intense filmmaking brand, fueled by star power, practical effects and filmmaking skills, can still cause the need for speed.
“I wanted him to have that old-school experience,” said Kasinski, director of Tron: Legacy and Oblivion. Also, when Maverick returns to Top Gun, I wanted to bring the audience back to this type of filmmaking. ».
Paramount Pictures, which refrained from promoting “Top Gun: Maverick” on the air, has made a continuation of the military level. After launching aboard the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego (where Cruz arrived by helicopter) the world promotional tour included stops at the Cannes Film Festival (where Cruz received the Palme d’Or) and the Royal Premiere in London. The film finally opens in theaters on Friday.
But where the sequels crashed and burned decades later, “Top Gun: Maverick” could be a retro blockbuster that would succeed – and perhaps even rival the original. The film has certain advantages, primarily the seemingly immaturity of its 59-year-old star.
But “Top Gun: Maverick,” in which middle-aged Maverick returns to an elite aviation training program to teach a new generation of flying aces (among them the hot son of Goose Rooster, played by Miles Teller), is an adventure fighter. which returns the style of high-flying filmmaking with the help of modern technology. With interior aerial scenes shot inside the cockpit, and a surprisingly emotional storyline imbued with memory and loss, “Top Gun: Maverick” re-ignites the spirit of the daredevils for the digital age.
At the beginning of the film, a skeptical general, played by Ed Harris, tells Maverick that his family is on the verge of extinction, a relic that will soon be replaced by automation. Maverick replies with a grin: “Not today.”
“In the film, he talks about him as an aviator. But watching it last week, I felt that Tom Cruise was talking about the film business, ”says Kasinski. “In the era of streaming, he still very, very strongly supports the theatrical experience.”
But does the new “Top Gun” fit into the present as easily as Reagan’s original 80s? The original “Top Gun” did not become a hit with critics. Pauline Kell called it “brilliant homoerotic advertising,” a theme Quentin Tarantino chose in the 1994 film Sleep with Me, when he, as an actor, called it “a story about a man’s struggle with his own homosexuality.”
Others saw a Pentagon-backed recruitment film with inflated patriotism and a portrait of American individualism against a faceless enemy without a country. Much of this is still present in Maverick – there is no shortage of disobedience to orders, and the bad guys remain blank slate. But Kasinski approached the film primarily about the cohesive culture of aviators.
“I feel that the theme of the first film and the theme of the first film is not really about politics. It is really friendship, companionship, competition, sacrifice, ”Kasinski says. “This is what we wanted to do in this film very purposefully. We have developed a fictional antagonist. The mission itself is to keep the world safe. It’s not about invasion. In fact, it’s about the relationship between Maverick and the Rooster. “
In 2012, he began to gain momentum for the sequel. The director of the original film, Tony Scott, met with Bruckheimer at the Naval Weapons School, known as Top Gun in Nevada. Scott killed himself a few days later.
“We certainly doubted it would happen,” Bruckheimer says. “But we still had an interest in trying to make a film.”
Bruckheimer cited Kosinski, who filmed Cruz in the exquisite sci-fi adventure adventure of 2013 “Oblivion”. Knowing from this experience what Cruz would answer, Kosinski focused his attention on the actor’s character and emotions. He and Bruckheimer flew to Paris to meet Cruz while he was filming Mission: Impossible. The director, who came up with a poster titled “Top Gun: Maverick,” had 20 minutes to do his thing.
“At the end of the meeting, Tom stood up, went to the phone, called the head of the studio and said, ‘We’re making this movie,'” Kasinski said. “I mean, it’s a real movie star who can cover a movie with a phone call.”
Cruz had a few reservations. One was that Val Kilmer, who finds it difficult to speak after throat cancer and numerous tracheal surgeries, has returned to the role of Iceman. (The actor is short but sharp.) Another was that all actors who play pilots should be trained to ride an F-16 and withstand higher G forces. In the original, only Cruz managed that.
“Tom came up with a way to train actors. At first, when they lifted them into the air with one camera in the cockpit, everyone was thrown away. We didn’t have usable staff. Their eyes rolled into their heads, ”says Bruckheimer. “Tom said, ‘Listen, we need to find a way to put our actors on so they can handle the G-forces.’
Bruckheimer said it took 15 months to work with the Navy, lawyers and the film crew on how to place the six cameras in the cabin. The actors who play the pilots – Glen Powell, Monica Barbara, Greg Tarzan Davis, Danny Ramirez, Lewis Pullman and Jay Ellis – have been trained for three months to prepare for F-18 flight speeds.
“Some actors said,‘ I’m not going to do that. I’m afraid to fly. ” So we lost some talented people who just couldn’t make the film the way we did, ”Bruckheimer says. “Most of the pilots we worked with on this film said they joined the army because they joined the first ‘Top Gun.'”
Thus, “Top Gun” has already proven that it can have a lasting effect in the real world. “Top Gun: Maverick” hopes to demonstrate that big blockbusters in the style of Bruckheimer, if done well, can still surpass everything else in theaters or at home.
“This film looks to the future,” says Kasinski. “Not just the past.”
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