I was always going to see this film, the big question was where and in what sort of cinema. That question was answered by an email from Kent Wing Air Cadets saying they were putting on a private showing of the film and would we like to go. The answer was a very easy “yes” and so we drove a school minibus down to Folkestone to watch the film in the Guildhall. I should normally waffle on about the tide here and even though we were in a port town I can’t tell you as I wasn’t close enough to the sea or local river to notice the state of the tide. I feel as though I have let you down slightly but also I don’t care because of this particular situation. After the film I rated it on IMDB, there’s a system so don’t quibble with me if you disagree.
There’s a lot to say about this film and I’ll probably add more after this is published. But I think it can be summarised thus: “it’s a Top Gun film”. I had a great time watching it and didn’t laugh out loud too many times at inappropriate places. I’m still amazed that before the film started we had a personal message from Tom Cruise to Kent Wing Air Cadets. How amazing is that? I’m super impressed with the people who organised this event and am slightly jealous too.
There are going to be spoilers in the following text. I don’t think I’m going to give much away of the story but I think I’ll be saying things that might spoil those little moments in the film. I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this justice so I’m just going to write the things I remember, they might be in the wrong order but I’ll try to make it match the film. Read on if you wish . . . .
The font to the opening titles was the same as the original. I liked this. I smiled. I was very excited and looking forward to the opening scene – which, let’s face it, is the best part of the original film. So, the opening scene did not disappoint, F18s launching from a carrier and “Danger Zone” playing over the top. It was bloody great. I loved it.
Cut to – Tom Cruise mechanicing with a spanner on his own Mustang. We know he’s good at this stuff because he has to wash his hands and so got dirty while doing stuff to the engine. Note we never see what he is actually doing, it’s just the spanner in some random part of the engine which was a Rolls Royce, of course. Then, Tom has dinner in his living room which is some chairs on some carpet in the middle of the hangar and I was struck by how stupid it was and how jealous I was at the same time.
Tom then rides his motorcycle along the taxiway on a major secret flight test location because they always let people just ride motorbikes on taxiways and he then pulls in a parks next to some super-good-looking plane straight into a conversation. Notice how, as a pilot, he never wears a crash helmet? In my experience pilots are some of the most safety conscious people I know. Anyway, actors don’t look good in helmets. Now let’s have some conversations about project in trouble and Ed Harris being amazing at some general or other. The plane taking off over the shitty little guardhouse is funny and stupid as fuck. Tom has to fly this new plane at Mach 10 or the programme is finished. So, Tom flies this plane at Mach 10. But then he can’t help being an immature prick so he pushes it a little faster and he breaks the whole thing and parachutes to safety. I think I genuinely would have loved it if they killed his character here and the rest of the film was about Rooster. Note – the Mach 10 plane could probably have carried out the secret mission perfectly well.
Next we have to put the team together. Cue “that one bar” where everyone goes in their full on uniform and drinks and talks shit to each other. Oh, it just so happens that this bar has been bought and is now run by some woman who Maverick used to fuck. The bar owner is also not too worried about the bottom line and owns a pretty neat yacht. I’m not sure what universe the economy is based in. There was some stuff happening with the Team.
My absolute favourite moment was the classroom scene. My god. I laughed. Military classrooms are the crappiest rooms thought about as an after thought and generally devoid of all decoration. The idea that a classroom would be placed in a hangar isn’t laughable. But. The idea that it would be a hangar on an operational flight line with the doors open and jet noise everywhere made me smile. Then, there was the flag. Or rather, THE FLAG. It was fucking massive. Just hanging there in the hangar. Being all stars and stripes. It was absolutely a laugh out loud moment. It was hilarious. Americans eh?
The hard deck of five thousand feet is always so close to the ground in the flying shots and I wonder if that’s because this is filmed in a mountainous region and the five thousand feet is AMSL? It always bothered me about the fist film and it annoyed me a little about this one. Also, if you fly an F18 between two other F18s they don’t really get “blown apart” from each other as they do in the film but then we need on screen action rather than reality here and I understand the choices made. I enjoyed the death spiral move that happened and I quite liked the flying scenes all the time. I mean, they are flying scenes.
I’m pretty sure some shit or other happens during the training and we get lots of machismo. There’s some love action with the bar owner who also happens to have a Porsche so this must be the only bar in San Diego and also just outside Fightertown and also next to the beach. Val Kilmer appears somewhere along the way and he was great. So nice to see him. I love the idea that Maverick is protected by this man. I’d say that’s quite realistic. The armed forces often come down to who you know rather than the rules sometimes, it’s just like life everywhere else.
I was amazed that the USA had valleys that exactly matched the ones in the Bad Place. We were told the F18s would have to fly down a twisty valley and follow an exact route. Fair enough. We were also told the computer would have the map but then, when training, they were flying down or up actual valleys. What an amazing coincidence. I didn’t mind, it looks much better to have aircraft flying near the ground or with clouds to give the impression of speed. I let them have this one. But I chuckled a little.
The target. The target. The target was the exhaust port on the Death star. I’ve nothing else to say.
The bomb run was great. Who cares that it was mostly bullshit? I loved it. The dogfighting was impressive. The SU-50s were amazing. The moves were cool. I liked the reconciliation scene between Maverick and Rooster and I also thoroughly loved the F14. The Tomcat clearly makes this Iran the Navy were attacking as they are the only country that still flies those gorgeous craft. But Russia are the only people with Felons. Oh well, who cares. I loved the F14. Bloody gorgeous. It was all amazing.
I really enjoyed this film. It was great. It was terrible but it was great. Just like the original. I’m not waiting for someone to make an “aircraft only” cut of the both films and put them together. Who cares about all the talk parts of the film. It is and always has been about the aircraft and cool things like that. I honestly don’t care about the story. The whole character arc of Maverick, if we can call it that, is an excuse to see the aircraft doing their shit.
Obviously, one B-2 Spirit and the movie would be over in two minutes.