I’m ‘Re-Engaging’ Big Time Now That Ed Harris And Jon Hamm Have Joined Top Gun 2

My looming anxiety surrounding the production of Top Gun 2, officially titled Top Gun: Maverick, melted away in a plume of afterburning jet engine exhaust today when I heard that news that Ed Harris and John Hamm have signed on to the film. 

Both of these actors are awesome. Ed Harris, in particular, would be perfectly cast as the salty Naval Aviator and command type who lays down the law with icy confidence. In fact, there is a bit of James Tolkan and Tom Skerritt in Ed Harris. Harris just put in an absolutely amazing performance in the second season of Westworld. There simply isn’t a plausible reality where one can get enough of his acting chops. 

John Hamm, I mean come on, the dude screams fighter pilot and he can do comedy or drama really well. I don’t know how to call this one. He has great success at both but his time as serious ad-man Don Draper was legendary.


Above all else, having these two join the film adds a lot of credibility to the production and really gets me excited wondering about their talents will be used. Also onboard are Jennifer Connoly and of course Val Kilmer reprising his role of the Ice Man. 

Probably the player that will get the most screen time after Tom Cruise will be Miles Teller as the young fighter-flying foil to a more seasoned Maverick. Teller has built up an impressive number of credits in recent years and I find him likable and relatable on screen. Other announced players include Glen Powell who already played Astronaut John Glenn in Hidden Figures, and Lewis Pullman, son of Bill Pullman, is also going to be in the film.

Ice Man returns in the upcoming Top Gun sequel. , Paramount

Joe Kosinski, who directed Oblivion, a sci-fi flick I enjoyed, is taking the directorial reigns on the Top Gun sequel. He also did the Tron reboot, which sucked, but the visuals were cool and it has one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. Again, both good signs when it comes to directing a sequel of Top Gun, which relied heavily on both those elements to capture the audience’s attention.

Since the movie was announced a go, it wasn’t clear if the production team was going to cast lesser-known actors in a similar fashion as its predecessor, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least for its core group of players. The entire idea of what Top Gun is has evolved in the three decades after it hit theaters, so taking a bit more mature casting approach does make some sense. 

Kosinski worked with Cruise on Oblivion., Universal Pictures

The film is already in early production. Currently, there is a 15 person crew shooting aboard the USS Abraham Lincon (CVN-72) in the Atlantic. There aren’t any actors onboard but they are shooting flight operations.

One of the biggest questions that remains is how exactly will the aerial fight sequences be captured and portrayed? The F-14 Tomcat in itself became a star of the original film via the air-to-air cinematography that took incredible coordination between aircrews to capture. One has to fear that the sequel’s flight scenes will be left to CGI which could drastically decrease the quality and longevity of the film. Doing so may be a thrifty choice but it would be a huge mistake, especially in an age of GoPro hero cams, modular HD podded camera systems, and specially outfitted jets that are modified just for air-to-air cinematography.  

There is also the question of plot. Will this be a cautionary tale about the realities of unmanned warfare and man’s place in the future aerial combat? That movie has already been done. Will it be one about confronting the son of a lost friend and RIO that has become a colleague for better or worse? That movie has also been done in various guises. Top Gun 2 would be wise to take a path not taken and not to tread directly where others have in the hopes that the film will be a success because, well, it’s a Top Gun sequel.

The timing is also a bit concerning. This film is supposed to hit theaters in less than 11 months, with a July 2019 release date already locked in. There is clearly a lot to do in not a lot of time.

But even with all these reservations, we are seeing some good signs that Top Gun: Maverick has a shot at being something special, or at the very least, a fun trip down memory lane with a few quality twists thrown in. And possibly, just possibly, the door will be left open for the franchise to expand into future films. 

We’ll keep you up to date as production continues to spin-up.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

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Tyler Rogoway


Tyler’s passion is the study of military technology, strategy, and foreign policy and he has fostered a dominant voice on those topics in the defense media space. He was the creator of the hugely popular defense site Foxtrot Alpha before developing The War Zone.