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After a 36-year wait, the Top Gun sequel arrived last month - and it did not disappoint.
In fact, Top Gun: Maverick became Cruise's highest-grossing movie worldwide after just 21 days. It surpassed $800 million (£654m) at the global box office - consequently beating his previous record of $791.1m (£647m) for Mission: Impossible - Fallout - and succeeded in becoming the highest-grossing Cruise movie in 23 different worldwide markets.
But while the popularity of the film appears to be universal, the interpretation of it is less uniform.
The sequel brings us a Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell (Cruise) who finds himself training the latest crop of Top Gun pilots for a dangerous mission, among them the son of Maverick's late friend Nick Bradshaw, known to fans as Goose. Enter Lieutenant Bradley Bradshaw, played by Miles Teller, whose call sign Rooster pays homage to his late father.
But Vulture film critic Alison Willmore has argued that Maverick is in fact dead all along - and she makes quite a compelling argument... Though if you wanna hear it, you better be braced for SPOILERS.
So, Willmore describes the smash hit movie as 'haunting and unreal and stubbornly dreamlike', listing off the various improbable feats in the movie, and she argues it's easier to make sense of all this if we interpret it as Maverick's death dream, blinked moments before his demise above the Mojave Desert.
Putting forward her hypothesis, Willmore takes it back to the opening of the film, where Maverick attempts to reach Mach 9 in a hypersonic jet as part of the Darkstar program.
Having achieved this objective, he can't help but push it further - past Mach 10 in fact - before the jet breaks to bits.
It looked pretty unsurvivable, but no, Maverick somehow rocks up in a diner covered in rubble, a little worse for wear, but very much alive.
"And which is easier to believe?" Willmore writes. "That Maverick makes it out of that crash untouched, skates past the consequences of another insubordination that destroyed a surely very expensive experiment aircraft, and is called back to the scene of his greatest triumph to wrap up loose ends, reunite with his youthful hookup, and prove that he's still the best?
"Or that those are all hallucinatory images coming from the last synaptic firings of a past-his-prime flyboy getting smeared across the horizon alongside the pieces of his jet?"
She concludes: "Top Gun: Maverick may be wonderfully absurd, but its absurdity is that of someone dreaming impossible dreams right before they burn up in the atmosphere.
"You don't need to see a shot of the crisped but grinning corpse at the end to sense its presence."
I mean, she could be right. I suppose if they decide to make it a trilogy that would kill the theory.
Cruise – who was also a producer on the film – said he'd been thinking about the sequel for decades, but he only wanted to do it if it was done right.
The 59-year-old said: "I'd thought about a sequel to Top Gun for all these years. People had asked for a sequel for decades. Decades. And the thing I said to the studio from the beginning was: 'If I'm ever going to entertain this, we're shooting everything practically.
"'I'm in that F/A-18, period. So, we're going to have to develop camera rigs.
"'There's going to be wind tunnels and engineering. It's going to take a long, long time for me to figure it out.'"
He added: "For years, people had said, 'Can't you shoot [the movie] with CGI?' And I always said, 'No. That's not the experience.'
"I said, 'I need to find the right story. And we're going to need the right team. This movie is like trying to hit a bullet with a bullet. I'm not playing.'"
Thankfully, it's proven to be worth the wait.
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