Top Gun 2 is happening. At least, that’s what lead actor Tom Cruise says. The 1986 blockbuster hit has maintained a following for over thirty years. A sequel has been teased for decades but nothing has ever made it to the big screen. Maybe that’s because there are a lot of reasons why a sequel to Top Gun is a bad idea.
Belated Sequels Rarely Work
There are few examples of when a long gap between films worked to a movie’s benefit. Granted, it’s not impossible for a belated sequel to work but it’s tough. Recapturing that magic takes a lot of skill, timing, and outright luck. Top Gun worked because it was the right movie for the right time. The best movies are often representative of their era. Top Gun 2 would be trading in ’80s nostalgia and that will feel extremely dated in the 21st century.
Not to mention that the gap in time will also reflect a change in special effects. Top Gun is a fantastic display of actual aerial stuntwork along with exciting practical effects. Top Gun 2 will likely trade a lot of that in for CGI action. There is no way such a change wouldn’t feel hollow. You can’t make Top Gun today without falling victim to digital effects and this is a movie that needs it all to feel as real as possible.
We Don’t View the Military the Same Way
Speaking of movies being time capsules of when they were made, it’s important to remember that Top Gun is a film that is slavishly enamored with its subject matter. Its Reagan-era love of the military feels utterly cartoonish nowadays. Sure, that’s part of Top Gun‘s charm, but it’s something that is going to be extremely difficult to replicate so many years later. We still have immense respect for the armed services, but there isn’t the same G.I. Joe fantasy attached to them.
Top Gun 2 would either try and recreate this over-the-top atmosphere and feel out of place in our current cultural landscape, or it would go a different route with its tone and feel untrue to the original film. Either way, it’s an obstacle that the sequel would have a tough time overcoming.
No Tony Scott
The saddest thing about Top Gun 2 is that it won’t have director Tony Scott behind the camera. Scott was an incredible action director and a lot of Top Gun‘s successes are due to his involvement. His death in 2012 actually shuttered Top Gun 2 back then. Without his involvement, it will be tough to see a sequel that captures his unique flair for action and momentum. It’s not impossible but it’s certainly an uphill battle.
Maybe Top Gun 2 will be great. That possibility certainly exists and I hope that’s the case once all is said and done. But, there are a lot of things working against it. We’ll see how it all shakes out. At least we know we’ll get to hear that sweet Kenny Loggins jam again. That’s always a good thing.