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2nd Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun: Maverick’: What Cruise’s new movie tells us about American Power.

Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise is back in the cockpit for “Top Gun: Maverick.” The long-awaited sequel to the classic 1986 film has finally begun filming, and we can’t wait to see it.

Cruise made the announcement on Instagram, posting a photo of himself in his flight suit with the caption “It’s official — I’m going to be a pilot!”

Top Gun: Maverick.

Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun: Maverick

In perfect geopolitical timing, Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster, Top Gun: Maverick, opened on Tuesday. On Tuesday, President Biden met with leaders from Australia, Japan and India in Tokyo. He had previously visited South Korea. While U.S. attention is increasingly focused on a bloody, lengthening war in Ukraine, the president sought to reassure partners about his nation’s commitment to their region.

A better moment, therefore,  to display the presence of American soft power in global multiplexes, demonstrating the viability and endurance of US military prowess? The original Top Gun, released in 1986. The movie was a box office hit and a tribute to American aerial and naval might during the Reagan era.

Tony Scott directed the film, which became the highest-grossing movie of that year and ranked among the highest in history at the time. Popular catchphrases such as “You can be my wingman at any time” and “Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full” became part of pop culture. It turned Cruise into one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, a position he has clung to doggedly for nearly 20 years.

Top Gun: Maverick released

Additionally, Top Gun was released at a time when the United States was gaining global dominance, giving it particular geopolitical poignancy. It topped movie charts the year after Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of the Communist party of the Soviet Union. The balance of power shifted decisively in favor of the United States. As the wounds of defeat from Vietnam were almost completely healed, the mid-1980s marked the beginning of a long period of US dominance, forged by the kind of enduring military might that Cruise’s alter ego confidently represented.

From its opening shot of the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier sailing through the Indian Ocean, the film was especially popular in Asia. In the movie’s conclusion, Cruise’s character, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, dogfights with a MiG-28 from an unidentified enemy, whose paint jobs looked distinctly North Korean.

 Now, 36 years later, the US readies itself for a new era of military competition with China. Cruise’s sequel is likely to brim with comparable, jingoistic self-confidence. Curiously, then, it turns out that Top Gun: Maverick is actually a rather anxious blockbuster, plagued with doubts about US power and acting as a lament for American decline.

Tom Cruise

Cruise isn’t known for self-doubt. Like its predecessor, his sequel displays much of the same cocky masculinity on the surface. He is recalled with his bomber jacket, aviator sunglasses, and Kawasaki Ninja motorbike to teach at “TOPGUN”, more formally known as the US Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, an elite pilot school in Miramar, California.

The film’s plot involves Cruise training a new generation of aviators to defeat a rogue state bent on nuclear weapons. “You don’t have time to think up there, Maverick noted in the film, You think . . . You’re dead. ”The flying sequences are a major draw for most moviegoers. Cruise is known for his commitment to realistic action.  In the Mission: Impossible franchise he jumps from buildings and hangs off planes.

 Here, He coached his co-stars through punishing flights in military jets flown by military pilots, leaving the actors’ faces contorted with g-force. In San Diego at the film’s recent premiere aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway Cruise said We are working with the Navy.

Top Gun: Maverick, premiere in Singapore

Top Gun: Maverick at its recent premiere in Singapore, a packed theater filled with enthusiastic uniformed US servicemen, who cheered as the opening credits rolled and the easily recognizable score sprang to life. Jonathan Kaplan, US ambassador to Singapore, linked it directly to the role the US and its military play as guardians of the “rules-based order” in Asia before the film aired. For this kind of rule-abiding American power, Cruise’s character was always curious.

We should welcome the return of Top Gun, because it is a vision of what we actually need in US defense. He explains. “War movies in the 2010s were all set on the streets of Baghdad. But we are now in an era, where the US must invest in new technology. But we also need to be sending more aircraft carriers and planes to the Indo-Pacific to help deter a rising China.”

Many of the US strategists hope their country can repeat its successes in the 1980s. “The most successful decade in American military history” Colby describes it. The decade involved heavy investment in military prowess, and ended in the collapse of its Soviet rival. “The appeal of Top Gun is that we want to be strong — not for its own sake.   He says “Rather to secure a good peace,“ we do need new drones, but we need to invest in many other things too.”

In the movie, it is not mentioned that China, the world’s leading drone manufacturer, may well be the winner of any forthcoming technological contest for the future of air power. In other places, however, similar themes of technological anxiety and incipient military decline do emerge.

The original Top Gun featured Cruise flying an aging F-14 Tomcat, but its sequel mostly depicts F/A-18 Super Hornets, a more recent model introduced in the late 1990s. Yet right from the start, Cruise and his students are warned that their unnamed adversary will likely have a fifth-generation aircraft, which refers to aircraft developed within the past decade or so.

 China’s most advanced plane, the J-20 stealth fighter, known as the “‘Mighty Dragon”, often patrols skies over the South China Sea. Between the superpowers it is an important potential flashpoint for a future conflict. Top Gun: Maverick is not the only movie to avoid material that might be unpopular with China’s government or its moviegoers. No Time to Die, the recent James Bond film, and any number of other action films with a Chinese villain could have added an element of geopolitical realism. Hollywood executives have for years avoided portraying Chinese characters as enemies because of the risk of decoupling themselves from China’s vast film market.

AtiZee

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