Since it landed full throttle in theaters on May 27 the long-anticipated “Top Gun: Maverick” has raked in a more than $400 million at the domestic box office, making it the highest-grossing movie of the year. Its score on Rotten Tomatoes is “Certified Fresh” at 97 percent on the Tomatometer, and sits at 78 percent on Metacritic.
But a movie reviewer on Letterboxd named Brett was not impressed by this sequel to the 1986 cult classic. In fact, he was so bothered by the action film that he gave it 1/2 a star and wrote more than 700 words about how terrible he found the movie.
“‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is a movie where our heroes are trying to start World War III,” he writes. “The US military is selecting pilots for a bombing run over an Iranian nuclear facility near completion, one which was built ‘in violation’ of an internationally-recognized treaty. This, of course, is the exact opposite of what happened in real life: the US violated the JCPOA agreement with Iran, and the Iranian government continued to obey it even when we no longer were.”
At no point in the movie did any character admit that Iran is the enemy in question, but the fact that the target is an uncompleted uranium enrichment site eliminates China, Russia, and North Korea from the list of possibilities, making it a realistic potential allusion to the country. However, this movie is clearly set on fictional geopolitical stage. Temporary suspension of reality is key to its enjoyment.
At age 59, it’s unlikely — though not completely impossible — that someone Tom Cruise’s age would be fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, so the idea of his character Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell serving nearly four decades is a fairly absurd footing to begin with.
“Like all successful fascist narratives, this movie portrays our enemies as simultaneously all-powerful and extremely weak,” Brett jeers. “To craft a story where our ludicrously overfunded heroes can be underdogs, it is necessary to pretend that Iran has ‘advanced 5th generation fighters’ which are superior to US capabilities; this is brought up repeatedly regardless of how absurd it is.”
And while Brett does have something of a point, you’d figure that a person who has watched over 1,500 movies and written more than 650 reviews would be able to remove himself from the current international political climate for two hours to watch a film about an old guy flying cool planes and running shirtless on a beach for no reason.
Speaking of which, our curmudgeonly reviewer made no mention of the erotic double football game in the California sun, and, to quote Jane Austen, “What a shame, for I dearly love to laugh.”
Brett also noted that the film is military propaganda, something that Alan MacLeod, senior staff writer for MintPress News, shockingly discovered this week.
His story took particular note of a production agreement between the Department of Defense and Paramount pictures, wherein the film crew was allowed access to military equipment and “[a]ssign a senior staff, post-command Officer to review with public affairs the script’s thematics and weave in key talking points relevant to the aviation community.”
This, however, is standard for movie production crews seeking to make authentic military movies. There is, indeed, an entire Hollywood office within the Defense Department dedicated to working with production staff.
“The Defense Department has a long-standing relationship with Hollywood,” according to a Pentagon press release. “In fact, it’s been working with filmmakers for nearly 100 years with a goal that’s two-fold: to accurately depict military stories and make sure sensitive information isn’t disclosed.”
In essence, “Top Gun: Maverick” was a fun reprieve from contemporary political morass and two decades of perceived real-world military failure. Alas, it’s not for everyone.
“Even if one can ignore the rabidly bloodthirsty nature of this movie, it is still absolute garbage,” he writes. “‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is a 131-minute long advertisement for death. Aggressively unoriginal, wildly irresponsible with its messaging, historically revisionist, and shamelessly jingoistic in the name of providing fellatio to arms dealers. This is a masterwork of propaganda in defense of some of our nation’s worst traits, and it’s an enormous success. I left the theater depressed and forlorn.”
Guess he’s lost that loving feeling...
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.