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Reel Time with Sister Rose

Top Gun: Maverick

Thirty-six years after Tom Cruise’s Top Gun blasted into theaters, the sequel arrives without missing a beat.

When Maverick is fired from his job as a test pilot by Admiral “Hammer ” Cain (Ed Harris), he is reassigned to the Top Gun Academy in San Diego where he once trained. Neither Cain nor “Cyclone ” (Jon Hamm), who commands the flight school, want Maverick to go to Top Gun, but his old nemesis, “Ice ” (Val Kilmer), now the‚ÄØcommander‚ÄØof the‚ÄØUS Pacific Fleet, decides that Maverick is needed.

The fighter pilots are needed for a top secret mission, and Maverick is the only one who can train 12 pilots (including a woman, “Phoenix, ” played by Monica Barbaro) from which six will be chosen. Though we never find out where it is, the pilots learn that a uranium enrichment plant has been detected in a hostile country and must be destroyed. One of the young pilots is “Rooster ” (Miles Teller), son of “Goose, ” Maverick’s friend and radar intercept officer, who died in a training accident with Maverick in Top Gun.

There is tension between Rooster and Maverick from the get-go, just as other tensions play out in the film, some of which will remind fans of the original. Joseph Kosinski does a stellar job directing this sequel. The action-packed and emotional script was penned by a trio of writers, Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie, with music from Hans Zimmer, Lady Gaga, and others. Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, who plays Penny, a single mom whom Maverick once dated, is the romantic interest.

Top Gun: Maverick is very entertaining and even inspiring. The film belongs to Cruise, Kilmer, and Teller. The meeting between Maverick and Ice, whose health is in obvious decline, is as warm as it is hostile and competitive. Themes of forgiveness, reconciliation, brotherly love, and humility abound. But the women, even Phoenix, are given far less to do in the film. In the background is the constructed geopolitical context of bombing an enemy country without any attempt at diplomacy and killing pilots who have no faces.

A-3, PG-13 • Battle violence, peril.


Downton Abbey: A New Era

Downton Abbey: A New Era

In 1928, the aging Lady Grantham (Maggie Smith) reveals to the family that she has been left a villa in France and that the family has been invited to visit. Everyone upstairs and downstairs wonders what is going on, but preparations for the journey are made. To complicate things, Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy), a film director, arrives to shoot a film at Downton. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) remains at the estate to watch over the production and the house, while the family decamps to the French Riviera.

Just how the villa came to Lady Grantham is a mystery that her son, Robert (Hugh Bonneville), must solve because his identity is threatened by this gift, and his mother is saying very little.

While this overlong film is bookended by the wedding of one of Downton‘s favorite characters, Tom Branson (Allen Leech), to Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton), and the death and funeral of another, everything in the middle is just a chance to barely catch up with characters we grew to love during the six seasons of the television show.

The film looks gorgeous, but the story is so heavily contrived as to border on boring. The plotlines are neatly tied up at the end, including the gay butler, Thomas (Robert James-Collier), finding a romantic partner (Dominic West). It’s time to retire Downton Abbey, which is streaming on Amazon Prime.

A-3, PG • Mature themes.


Hustle starring Adam Sandler

Hustle

Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) has been traveling the globe for 30 years as a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers, an NBA team, and he dreams of being a basketball coach. When the owner, Rex Merrick (Robert Duvall), dies, his ruthless son, Vince (Ben Foster), takes over, and his daughter, Kat (Heidi Gardner), Stanley’s ally, moves on with her life beyond the team.

Stanley discovers an amazing player in Spain, Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez), but he fails to do a background check before bringing him to Philadelphia. Things go from bad to worse as Stanley’s professional and personal relationships fall apart. This is probably the best acting I have seen from Sandler in this small movie with a big heart. Hustle is streaming on Netflix.

Not yet rated, R • Crass humor; references to porn addiction; language.


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