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03.06.2022

Top Gun, Wounded Warrior

Whoosh!

It takes some nerve, or just plain greed, to make a sequel of one of the most beloved action movies of all time, a movie that so etched itself into the American imagination that it famously increased recruitment to the US Navy by 40%. Well, Tom Cruise never lacked nerve. And, as in the newly released Top Gun Maverick, his nerve is rewarded.

Certainly, the aerial action, the soundtrack, the cinematography did indeed ‘take my breath away’. Still, the film’s driver, as in many of Cruise’s early films, is whether the hero can overcome the flaw that is preventing them becoming all they might be. It was a familiar pattern: a smart, brattish, highly talented individual with a chip on their shoulder and a wound in their heart must learn a big character lesson or fail. In Days of Thunder it’s a racing driver, in The Firm and A Few Good Men it’s a lawyer, in Top Gun a pilot. Their wounds hamper them in different ways, but all have issues with their father or in their wider family.

In Maverick, Cruise, is still haunted by the accidental death in the first film of his navigator Goose, twenty years ago. Now single, childless, highly decorated but still a lowly captain, Cruise is faced with the prospect of retirement. His work, he sees, is his identity. If he can no longer fly, who will he be?

But Cruise, channelling Dylan Thomas, will ‘not go gentle into that good night’. Reprieved to train an elite group for a mission that is half Dambusters and half assault on the Death Star, his guilt over Goose’s death is triggered by the presence of Goose’s son, Rooster, a man with his own wound and resentments. Is reconciliation possible? Will their respective wounds scupper the mission? Can Cruise let go of the past? Can Rooster? Can either of them forge a satisfying future?

It’s a curious thing that in the midst of this mach-speed, rock-operatic, military movie, questions of shame, guilt, forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, and loyalty are so compellingly, if not subtly, explored. Indeed, all the films mentioned earlier explode the myth of the all-American, heroic individual who can do it ‘my way’ and flourish. Even Maverick needs friends, wisdom, challenge, help, and love to get through the danger zone and beyond. Good grist for a gospel-conversation? You betcha.

Mark Greene
Mission Champion, LICC

Comments

  1. Brilliant and very relevant

    By Sheila Holden  -  3 Jun 2022
  2. Yes Mark, so eloquently said! Whenever I visit the Cinema I almost always end up having a ‘God Encounter’ and never more so than from the beginning of this film; from a glimpse into the power and majesty of God to the heroic battles between light and darkness. This experience precipitated a momentous time with our Heavenly Father as all my deepest desires for ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done’ burst to the surface of my consciousness. Go see it!

    By Peter Riley  -  3 Jun 2022
  3. Thanks Mark. As always, very state and wise.

    By Hugh Wallace  -  4 Jun 2022
    • “Astute” – sorry

      By Hugh Wallace  -  4 Jun 2022

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