I can’t lie. When it was originally announced they were making a sequel to Top Gun, the greatest American film ever made, I was skeptical. I was concerned that, like most sequels, it would suck. Fortunately, Top Gun: Maverick was almost everything I could have hoped for.
I say it was almost everything because even though Top Gun: Maverick is a great movie, I think the climax stops it from being a perfect movie (as the resident Maverick of Vendetta, you know, I know, what I’m talking about).
WARNING: Major Spoilers Ahead (if you aren’t smart enough to tell by the title)
I know people are going to try and kill me in the comments. Let’s try and skip past that part, shall we? I don’t think that the climax was bad. As the movie stands I’d say it’s a solid 8.637 out of 10.
In my opinion, the climax of the movie was a little corny. Sure it feels good to have Maverick jump into the cockpit of an F-14 and gun down some bad guys from the dubious enemy country to be named later. For me, it just felt like the movie was building to one ending and decided, “no fan service would be better.”
The entire movie Maverick talks about how he can’t let go. He can’t move on because being a fighter pilot isn’t what he is, it’s who he is.
Maverick is a dying breed, though. In the age of drones and new young hotshot pilots, Maverick is doing all he can to stay in the cockpit.
Plus, you have Maverick’s relationship with Rooster. Maverick pulled Rooster’s application to the academy setting his career back by years. It turns out Maverick promised Rooster’s late mother he would protect him by keeping him out of an airplane.
Their relationship is strained even further because Maverick knows Rooster thinks too much and is too cautious. Rooster flies a lot like Maverick after Goose died. Unlike Maverick, who lost his edge, Rooster never had one. Remember:
“You don’t have time to think up there. If you think, you’re dead.”– Maverick 1986
By the end of the film, Maverick is ready to finally move on. Although he is tasked with flying the super-secret suicide mission, he accepts that he needs to give up control and accepts that he will eventually have to move on. Maverick has made it clear that fighter pilots like him will always be needed but it’s not him that’s needed.
When Maverick picks Rooster to fly the super-secret suicide mission it mends their broken fence. Rooster still doesn’t have his edge though. When the mission is jeopardized by his cautious flying Rooster finally gives in and begins to fly on instinct. He gets his edge.
How It Climaxed
Maverick is shot down by enemy fire. He sacrifices himself to protect Rooster. It looks like Maverick’s goose is cooked (see what I did there). No one saw him eject and with advanced enemy fighters approaching there isn’t time to send a rescue.
After a quick cut to black, Maverick is face to face with an enemy helicopter. This is the end for our hero, right? No, at the last minute Rooster swoops in to save the day. Getting shot down in the process.
Eventually, the pair steal an enemy F-14 (the plane Maverick and Goose fly in the first movie if you didn’t know), manage to shoot down the impossible-to-kill next-generation enemy super planes, and finally escape.
Not a bad end but, I feel like having Maverick be the ultimate hero of the movie undermines the character growth of Rooster and Maverick. Plus, it’s a little corny.
How It Should Have Climaxed
Okay, so hear me out. Maverick still gets shot down. Rooster still saves him from the helicopter. Instead of Rooster getting shot down the young fighter pilots get into a dogfight with the enemy planes.
The scene can start with a shot of Maverick watching Rooster “do some of that pilot shit” (do you see what I did here?) from the ground.
Eventually, the young fighter pilots overcome the advanced enemy impossible to kill mega aircraft in a dogfight that is reminiscent of Iceman and Maverick’s fight at the climax of the original. Maverick is saved. Everyone lives happily ever after.
This ending would be awesome because it symbolizes the change Maverick undertakes during the movie. He’s ready to give up control and allow the next generation to replace him. Meanwhile, it allows Rooster to replace Maverick as the hero of the next generation. Now you wouldn’t necessarily have to but, this ending would better open the door for a Creed-style sequel revolving around Rooster.
People have said that Top Gun: Maverick was better than the original. I think it could have been. If the climax they were building actually happened.
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