Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick - A Fanboy's Pilgrimage To The Theatres

"Maverick is re-engaging", three words that are akin to the eponymous "At the stroke of the midnight hour….." for an Indian Mil-avia fanboy. In real-life, a renewed thrust towards achieving something that isn't going as per intent, evokes a "Maverick is re-engaging" euphoria. "Rooster is re-engaging", on the other hand, sounds like a tortured poseur.

As an unabashed 'Top Gun' fanboy, this writing makes no attempt at paying obeisance to the "objectivity Gods". The release of the latest film, 'Top Gun: Maverick' has been a manna. Watching Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell strapped to an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, stress testing it's Airframe by performing edge-of the envelope manoeuvres, critical to mission success, was a 3 hours long experience in 'high'. Being able to watch it on the big screen felt like an answer to a multi-decade long prayer.

The makers of the movie, we learn, spared no effort at triggering the thrill that the audience went in to experience. A coincidence it is, that Boeing is in town with it's Super Hornets, courting Indian acquiescence to place it atop Indian Navy Aircraft Carrier.

What stuck out sorely in the movie, however, was the inability of it's makers to name the belligerent. The first installation, released in midst of the Cold War, suffered no such compunctions. Even if the aircraft, MiG-28, was fictional, the Soviets, as the adversary were not. Here, an unnamed country is surreptitiously pursuing activity in an unnamed location, under the protective envelope of unnamed 5th generation fighter aircraft. Too many unnamed, the film contends with.

It, however, doesn't strain the brain to deduce that the Top Guns were gunning to violate the Kashtari airspace because it's leader, Prime Minister Bharath was playing hooky with the UN. After all, who else is the only current operator of the Russian Sukhoi Su-57 FGFA while continuing to fly F-14 Tomcat, that plays a pivotal role in the second instalment too. The snow-covered landscapes were another give-away.  Also subjugating incredulity, pilots ejecting out of experimental hypersonic test-beds & supersonic aircraft  & getting back into the cockpit within days.

The movie attempts at triggering déjà vu, by recreating numerous scenes that mirrors from the 1st. The trademark beach volleyball scene from the first film has a corresponding visual where the officers get into a tumble on the beach playing American Football. Missing is a Rick Rossovich analogous flexing his torso in slo-mo. Similarly, the scene where Maverick visits the home of his Commander Mike Metcalfe & learns about the heroics of his father, casts it's spell in the second when he visits the house of his Top Gun course-mate & now superior officer, Admiral Tom "Iceman" Kazansky.

As a showcase of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, 'Top Gun: Maverick' could well be his show-reel. The stylisation, production value, the raw untempered display of adrenalin rush, that typify a Jerry Bruckheimer film, have been cranked up many notches higher in this instalment to give movie-goers breathless 3 hours of entertainment.

As far as Masala Movies go, Top Gun: Maverick is a Michelin-rated destination for savouring masala.