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‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Trailer Takes A Ride Into The Comfort Zone

4 min read

This second Top Gun: Maverick trailer offers almost nothing of value that we didn’t get from the first teaser back in July. There’s no real plot, no rundown of new characters and little in the way of thematic content beyond rehashing the greatest hits moments (Cruise on a motorcycle, a volley game game, hot men sans shirts, aerial tricks, familiar music, etc.) from the first Top Gun. Is this cause for concern, or are they just holding their cards until the third and presumably final trailer later next year? The trailer may play well enough on an IMAX screen (I’ll try to find out on Thursday night or Friday morning), but it doesn’t exactly “justify” another go-around, and basing your entire marketing campaign on “Hey, it’s a sequel to that movie you liked 35 years ago!” is a dangerous game.

It’s no secret that I wasn’t exactly in favor of another Top Gun movie and am of the opinion that we wouldn’t have gotten it had more folks shown up, especially in North America, to the likes of Edge of Tomorrow and American Made, but c’est la vie. Tom Cruise movies are generally good, all due respect to Rock of Ages and The Mummy, and while I’m not a big Tron: Legacy fan, it has its cult, Oblivion was pretty good and Only the Brave was one of the best movies of 2017. So, yeah, a Tom Cruise Top Gun movie directed by Joseph Kosinski (with Christopher McQuarrie listed as one of the screenwriters) has at least something approaching the benefit of the doubt.

With Transformers on sabbatical, Star Trek in doubt, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gearing up for another reboot alongside more reboots of Power Rangers (Lionsgate released the 2017 flick) and whatever is going on with the G.I. Joe series, Paramount’s “big” franchises essentially come down to Top Gun 2, SpongeBob and the remaining Mission: Impossible movies. As you may recall, Cruise and Paramount parted ways in 2006 after Mission: Impossible III made “just” $397 million worldwide on a $150 million budget, a lower-than-expected number blamed on Cruise’s tabloid-friendly antics (the couch jump, the whirlwind Katie Holmes romance, the Scientology commentary, his criticism of Brooke Shields over her depression medications, etc.).

It didn’t help that Cruise’s back-end deal still made him a fortune from the J.J. Abrams picture even as the movie itself struggled to make a profit. Thus, Paramount and Cruise mutually agreed not to renew Paramount’s deal with his production company. The “divorce” was short-lived, as we did get both two acclaimed/hugely successful Mission: Impossible movies in 2011 and 2015, along with two less acclaimed/less successful (but much less expensive) Jack Reacher films (in 2012 and 2016). No, Paramount didn’t “fire” the actor, but it wasn’t a peak moment for the longtime movie star. And while we can debate to what extent Tom Cruise still has “it” outside of the Ethan Hunt/Mission: Impossible movies, Paramount isn’t anywhere near as healthy as they were in the mid-2000’s.

One year after Mission: Impossible III, they would begin a run of huge blockbusters (Transformers, Iron Man, Star Trek, How to Train Your Dragon, Thor, World War Z, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc.) that would keep them relatively healthy until 2016. But with their IP dying or dead and audiences no longer showing up to old-fashioned star vehicles and “grown up” movies, Paramount needs Tom Cruise as much as they ever did. And, yeah, with American Made merely doing “okay,” The Mummy killing the Dark Universe before it could begin and Jack Reacher stumbling with the second installment, it’s at least something of a mutually beneficial relationship. Paramount needs Cruise’s Mission: Impossible and at least the potential of a blockbuster Top Gun sequel, while Cruise needs the franchises that allow him to maintain the appearance of still being an old-school A-list movie star.

But, of course, that only works if folks actually show up to Top Gun Maverick when it opens on June 26. And it’ll be just one movie banking on 1980s nostalgia next year. We’ve got Wonder Woman 1984, Bill and Ted Face the Music and Ghostbusters: Afterlife alongside Top Gun: Maverick just this summer alone. And its opening alongside Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of Lin-Manual Miranda’s In the Heights is as much a “old-school hit versus new-wave event” showdown as you could imagine. Although you can make the case that Top Gun 2’s nostalgia for “Morning in America” (Top Gun was a prime piece of Reagan-era propaganda and a hell of a military recruitment tool) is merely a different era of nostalgia contrasted with the Hope-and-Change era of In the Heights (a show that opened on Broadway in 2008).

We don’t know how well the 80’s throwbacks will perform, but (relatively speaking and with differing variables notwithstanding) Rambo: Last Blood is not an encouraging canary in the coalmine. Will Top Gun: Maverick be a pure nostalgia play, sacrificing having anything of value to say about the world of today and/or the legacy of the original 1986 Tony Scott-directed blockbuster? Or, will it offer meta-commentary and/or an update and risk upsetting the fanbase of the original $376 million-grossing movie? That gross, by the way, made Top Gun one of the biggest earners ever at a time when only E.T. and Star Wars were $500 million-plus grossers.

It’s a delicate needle to thread, although the Cruise who made American Made (which dealt with the Iran-Contra scandal with a deeply cynical eye) and Lions for Lambs is presumably up to the challenge. If it works, it could be one of the bigger movies of the summer. If not, it’ll be Zoolander, No. 2 all over again.




Source: FORBES

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