As Top Gun: Maverick sits on an impressive Rotten Tomatoes score of 97%, with an average rating of 8.3 out of 10, it behooves us as canny observers of pop culture to ask a few pertinent questions, chief among them this: are you all on fucking crack?
Not that the specifics matter. It could be crack, it could be meth, it could be opioids or paint thinner, or any number of deeply harmful psychoactive substances that have driven the critical community to shit their collective bed and declare this lazy, uninspired re-tread not just one of the finest films of the year, but apparently the best of star and producer Tom Cruise’s career. I’m no stranger to being outside the critical consensus — in fact, everyone in this game should be familiar with that feeling, if only to get a measure of how strong their own artistic convictions really are — but this one has me genuinely baffled. Baffled in a way that makes me seriously wonder if we saw the same film.
Not that the film I saw was terrible — Top Gun: Maverick isn’t even the worst film I’ve seen this week. But it’s the most disappointing, the most lackluster. It hits its obvious story beats with dull, repetitive precision, offering us plenty of action and spectacle (the cinematography by Claudio Miranda, director Joseph Kosinski’s go-to guy, is incredible) but little in the way of drama, pathos, or catharsis. It does try to mimic those qualities, though, but then again, Maverick tries to mimic many things. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.