Top Gun: Maverick (2022), written by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren and Singer Christopher McQuarrie was the movie of the summer in 2022. How was the screenplay? Let’s analyze it.
- Draft Read: Unknown
- Type: Spec
- Page Count: 170
- Reading Speed: Medium
- Setting(s): California, Unknown hostile country
- Plot Structure: Linear, Spanning multiple weeks
- Genre(s): Action
- Theme(s): Love, Loyalty, Trust, Redemption, Forgiveness
- Protagonist Change: Moderate
Again I’m catching up on my analyses so I’ll keep this one short.
I’ll start off by saying I think this is a disaster of a screenplay. To me, it’s the definition of a camel; a horse designed by committee.
Let’s step back a bit. There was an original Top Gun (1986). I watched it. It wasn’t anything special. But it had it’s supporters and it was high-concept. This sequel, as far as I can tell, had to create a story out of thin air while staying true to the original film. That’s not easy.
So why does the script stink? Let’s talk about scene selection. Disaster. Sure I could talk about just about every scene involving Penny, but how about my personal favorite indefensible scene: The completely out of place beach football game. It’s so corny, so cheesy; it just screams amateur.
How about an essential part of any action script; the enemy. Who is it? Who knows. The enemy stinks too. They are useless.
The story also keeps gaining new life when it should die off. For example, on Page 21 Maverick should be fired (discharged?) yet instead is spared when it is revealed that (Page 21):
Call came in with impeccable timing. Right when I was driving here to ground your ass once and for all. It galls me to say it, but for reasons known only to the almighty and your guardian angel… you’ve been called back to Top Gun.
Convenient timing and luck for Maverick indeed. Maverick seems to live on luck.
Quick pause. A tidbit worth noting about this script is the use of alternative lines in the dialogue (which is nothing special). For example (Page 22):
Yes, sir… But not today.
ALT: Maybe so, but not today, sir.
Pretty simple but not a common addition to screenplays.
Okay, back to the script. I took many notes. I could write more. But I won’t. It’s a good reminder that not everything comes down to the script. It was a popular film and the cinematography and effects were of course fantastic. But perhaps a script is a more accurate predictor if a film will stand the test of time. And I would be willing to bet this one will not. Then again, will movies be a thing in 50 years? 100 years? Maybe Maverick will return yet again to save us.