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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Old Soldiers Fade Away, Right?

Top Gun: Maverick on IMDb

Plot Overview

Fantasy Island ExpressAfter refusing numerous promotions, graying Navy test pilot Cpt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) plays aerial cowboy once too often, and his speeding plane goes kaput. Whether he crash lands or blacks out to dream the rest of the movie is a matter of conjecture; I shall include this one in the fantasy category and leave the audience to sort it out. It's a fantastic tale either way.

high ballMaverick is assigned to teach the Navy's top guns to do the militarily impossible against a heavily fortified Uranium enrichment facility under construction in a hostile nation. He builds team camaraderie in a shirtless pseudo-football match on the beach of San Diego. He pushes the training hard and eventually must take the lead him­self as he is the best of the lot. They expect they'll need a couple miracles to pull it off, but when it comes to crunch time, they'll need more than two.


The skip ahead in the plot occurs early on when he goes from a suddenly dark test plane to a bustling diner in the desert, in serious need of a drink of water. After quenching his thirst (Maverick: “Thank you”) he asks the patrons, “Where am I?” Replies a boy, “Earth?” The movie taps into the arche­type of Noah having had a seriously rough ride lifted up by the waters to now trying to repopulate this planet. It takes up with Maverick encountering a former love interest Penny (Jennifer Connelly) at the bar she runs near the base. Her teenage daughter Amelia (Lyliana Wray) has grown a lot since Maverick last saw her, but the girl's (high-ranking) father is with his wife—not Penny. For one reason or another, kids can end up in custody of one or the other of her parents, even in Noah's day, we suppose.

In the Genesis account of the Flood, is a mystery woman, the mother of Ham. (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.” Let's look again at Noah's story (Jasher 5:14-17):

And the Lord said unto Noah, Take unto thee a wife, and beget children, for I have seen thee righteous before me in this generation. And thou shalt raise up seed, and thy children with thee, in the midst of the earth; and Noah went and took a wife, and he chose Naamah the daughter of Enoch, and she was five hundred and eighty years old. And Noah was four hundred and ninety-eight years old, when he took Naamah for a wife. And Naamah conceived and bare a son, and he called his name Japheth, saying, God has enlarged me in the earth; and she conceived again and bare a son, and he called his name Shem, saying, God has made me a remnant, to raise up seed in the midst of the earth.

Shem and Japheth were full brothers, Ham was born at a later date (the youngest, see Gen. 9:24) perhaps from a different mother. Noah's wife was older than he was. Perhaps at 580+ years she was no longer able to bear children after the first two. She didn't have any more after the flood, even though it was a time to repopulate the earth. Maybe she stopped bearing before the flood. Ham could then have been step­brother of the other two.

Researcher Mark DeWayne Combs posits that, “Although Jasher specific­ally references the births of Japheth and Shem, there is no such reference to the birth of Ham. … that Ham may have been much younger than his brothers and that he may have had a different mother” (389). Combs also observes, “Fathering a child, particularly a son, through a hand­maiden or servant girl would not have been an uncommon or forbidden practice in that time period” (165). Historian Kenneth M. Stampp remarks that “Apologists for slavery traced the history of servitude back to the dawn of civilization and showed that it had always existed in some form until their own day” (14).

plowingFor those not settled in the sands of time, I offer this remedial history lesson, with apologies to those who don't need it. The biblical story is widely known of Adam & Eve's temptation and fall in the Garden of Eden, how the woman ate the forbidden fruit and gave it to her husband to eat (Gen. 3:6), God responding by increasing the severity of the woman's child­birth pains (Gen. 3:16) and making man's toil onerous (Gen. 3:17-19.) What is less well known—except in places like the Bible Belt—is a redo of sorts to ameliorate man's difficult labor. Noah's father Lamech had (Gen. 5:29) “called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” They still had to follow the earlier template to get a reprieve. Instead of the forbidden tree to be respected by the first couple, there was old man Noah whose work break was to be respected by his three sons. (Gen. 6:10) “And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” They formed them­selves into two pairs: the eldest Shem & Japheth, and the youngest Ham paired with his own son Canaan making the numbers even.

Come the deluge and the ark's passengers could well be a model for, (James 5:13) “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” There was undoubtedly a lot of distress on their voyage occasioning a lot of prayer, and their eventual land­fall would have been accompanied by much celebration.

When (Jasher 6:40-41) “they all went out from the ark, they went and returned every one to his way and to his place, and Noah and his sons dwelt in the land.” They'd been cooped up together long enough, so now they spread out some­what according to some prees­tab­­lished pecking order. God (Jasher 6:42) “said unto them, Be fruitful and fill all the earth; become strong.” To become strong meant, among other things, taking their needed meds when sick, along the lines of, (James 5:14) “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Children are always getting sick. Here it seemed to be Canaan's turn whose elders would have been his father Ham and grand­father Noah. Oil in Bible times was a medication as was, (1Tim. 5:23) “Drink[ing] no longer water, but [to] use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” Grapes grow in the summer, but once they're fermented, the wine can be stored through­out the year. Noah got into the store while setting an example for a work break, establishing period(s) of rest from hard work per Lamech's saying. By chance or design it interfered—it had to incon­venience some­one—with Ham's youngest son Canaan's need, and Ham could well have been the low-status brother from another mother.

Instead of the wily serpent we had Noah's wife as an on-the-spot influencer, who since she isn't mentioned, did well incurring no rebuke. She would have made her­self scarce giving Noah some space to relax when he started drinking. Being a virtuous woman (Prov. 31:27) “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” She would not have let grass grow under her feet but would have gone straight to visit Ham to make adjustments regarding their diminished store of medicinal alcohol, to advise him to water down the old supply, or what­ever. Ham showed up shortly there­after to check it out. He fell to temptation by mocking his dad to his two brothers, but they would have none of it. This is parallel to Eve earlier failing first then offering the fruit to Adam who accepted it, but here the older brothers did not go along with Ham, so we'd expect them to receive a blessing rather than a curse such as it was. The distribution of labor had to be readjusted to account for the new workers' holiday(s), and Ham for his insolence left him­self and his family line open to taking up the slack. Depicted below is that scene rendered in a Civil War vintage wood­cut, made after a drawing by Julius Schnorr von Carols­feld (German painter, 1794–1872) from his archive, published in 1877.

drunken Noah and his three sons

The alternate image text by licensor iStock.com/Getty Images explains what happened here to Noah and his fermented grapes: “When he drank some of the wine, he got drunk and uncovered him­self inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside. Shem and Japheth took a garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in back­wards and covered up their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father's nakedness (Genesis 9:21-23).” They covered the old man to prevent him from catching a chill as it was no longer summer.

Ham had put himself in jeopardy according to, (Prov. 30:17) “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” Especially pertinent in this case is Noah's control over the animals including the raven (Gen. 8:7) although Proverbs often gives general principles rather than specific results. Never­the­less, there is precedent when some kids mocked a man of God for not having a covering of hair on his head and they got mauled by beasts. (2Kings 2:23-24) “And … as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”

eye trimThere's a parity of eye loss and servitude given in (Exodus 21:26) “And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake.” Ham and his line—represented by Canaan in his lineage—could be given servitude rather than mutilation. This would be in keeping with the sentiment of Job in, (Job 31:7-8) “If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my off­spring be rooted out.” In that woodcut-derived picture above we see Ham after disregarding his mom's caution, checking up on his dad, getting carried away by an eyeful of the dishabille inebriate, and gesturing with his hands to his brothers. If he were to “sow, and another eat” and his “off­spring be rooted out,” that would mean becoming a slave and his off­spring being carried away in slavery. Okay.

The Bible's account leans towards the latter. (Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son [Ham] had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” When Noah woke up, he blessed as a pair the lines of his two respectful sons and cursed Ham's line­—pairing Ham with his youngest son Canaan as was Noah's wont to go by twos—giving them servitude to his other two sons'. (Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.”

Ham's youngest son Canaan is the particularly noted recipient of the punishment. Later when the Israelis invaded the promised land, the Canaanites were due for destruction, but the Gibeonite branch (the Hivites of Joshua 11:19 & Gen. 10:15-17) did a deal with Joshua who was the Jewish leader. They'd heard what happened to other Canaanite tribes, so they sent ambassadors dressed as if they'd come from a long journey (Joshua 9:3-6) and persuaded Joshua to make a league with this “distant” tribe. When it was discovered they'd tricked Joshua into sparing them, (Joshua 9:24-27) he made them bond­men, which was more to their liking. If this trick is indicative of the character of the original Canaan, he might well have been malingering to get out of his chores, which would also help explain Noah's hesitation to coddle him with wine. And when it came time to deal with the sin, it affected the whole line of Ham.

More germane to modern times is perhaps the lineage of Cush, Ham's oldest son (Gen. 10:6,) Cush meaning black in Hebrew, having settled in Africa, some of his to become in later years African-American slaves. Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that, “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62).

integrated poolNegroes had a struggle to achieve integration in America although they did better in the military that was primarily interested in results. Women, how­ever, were not oppressed so much as settled into traditional roles, although they've had trouble with unwanted attention and/or pregnancies in the military. Eminently respected business writer Peter F. Drucker states:

Throughout man's history, and above all, among primitive peoples, work groups have always been sexually differentiated. Men work together and women work together. But we rarely hear, either in history or in cultural anthro­pology, of work groups of mixed sex. Men hunt and women tend the village. Men build boats and women grow yams. In Europe women have tradition­ally milked cows, in America men; but on neither side of the Atlantic has milking been done by sexually mixed groups. (188)
According to respected scholar Gilder,
Who would have anticipated that it would be liberal Republicans in the Nixon Administration who would fulfill the cynical dream of Judge Smith when he added the words “or sex” to the bitterly won civil rights laws of the sixties. Smith thought that the thicket of sex discrim­ination would ultimately confound and dis­credit all the anti­discrim­in­ation efforts of government—in fact all the highest egalitarian impulses of liberalism. And he may have been right. (96)

Against that historical background “Top Gun: Maverick” opens with a class of eighteen top guns, the crème de la crème, to be further reduced to the very best six who will comprise two pilots with their wingmen for the primary one–two strike and one pair held in reserve. The class has a representative number of blacks and one woman, which seemed about right to the writers, but it doesn't look right to me an engineer or to mathematician John Paulos whose graph I'll use to illustrate.

Two Normal Curves

Two overlapping normal distribution curves

Small differences in the mean lead to large differences at the extremes.

Paulos writes, “Statistical disparities are not necessarily evidence of racism or ethnic prejudice, although, without a doubt, they some­times are. One can and should debate whether the tests in question are appropriate for the purpose at hand, but one shouldn't be surprised when normal curves behave normally” (59-62.) Blacks are built more or less the same as Whites, so we'd expect to see a proportionate number in the top rank of a physically rigorous training program. But women are of a slighter build on average, so as top guns they'd be about as common as hen's teeth. Then how come the one woman “Phoenix” (Monica Barbaro) in the program makes it to the final cut? Along with nerdy Bob (Lewis Pullman) a seeming product of nepotism, the old guy star, and “Rooster” (Miles Teller) a guy with a heavy chip on his shoulder we don't want tested under 10G? What they have in common is they're all white, and none of the blacks made it. To me that smacks of creeping white supremacy.

Martin Luther King (MLK) spoke in his “Dream” speech about divvying up “Paradise” among us all. The barkeep in “Maverick” penalized Maverick with the bar tab, because he spoke disrespectfully of women, and when his credit card was declined, he was bodily 86'd from the joint as “Hangman” (Glen Powell) entered 86 on the jukebox. The historical precedent for all this trouble was Ham showing disrespect to Noah over the wine bill and MLK's freedom check coming back marked “Insufficient Funds.”

jet pilotThere's a stylized hanging at the end of the movie when Hangman escorts a crippled F–14 Tomcat to the carrier. He makes an announcement, “Please fasten your seat belts, return the tray tables to their locked and upright positions, and prepare for landing.” He's figuratively opened the trap door and the sucker drops onto the deck to be suddenly restrained by a heavy rope net halting its forward momentum. The sorry plane gets hung up in the rope. The city council where I live has banned noose displays over remembered wrongs. I don't see that much difference between Hangman doing his job here and what happened before to Negroes caught tom­cat­ting around with white women. That the net is tied together with knots called sheet bends, not nooses that the men dressed in sheets used, probably won't matter much to the council should they scrutinize this movie. I went and saw TG:M in a neighboring city that had no noose display prohibition. I just wanted to enjoy it.

Production Values

” (2022) was directed by Joseph Kosinski. Its story was written by Peter Craig based on characters created by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. It stars Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connolly, Val Kilmer, Ed Harris, Glen Powell, Jay Ellis, Miles Teller and Monica Barbaro. Cruise was good as always and had great support. He did his own stunts and they used good filming technique rather than computer tricks.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for sequences of intense action, and some strong language. It's fast moving, ever as realistic as one could have hoped, and seemingly military savvy although people in the know won't be fooled. Cruise a pilot owns his own P–51 that appears in the movie and is the same type plane flown by my dad in WWII.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This is a great feel-good movie, at least for White Americans. It has yet to run afoul of the PC crowd, but that doesn't mean it never will in the changing future.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Print. Software.

The Book of Jasher. Translated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, Web.

Combs, Mark DeWayne. End the Beginning. USA: Splinter in the Mind's Eye Pub., 2014. Print.

Drucker, Peter F. Management (London: Heinemann, 1974. Print.

Gilder, George F. Sexual Suicide. New York: Quadrangle, 1973. Print.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

Paulos, John Allen. A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. New York: BasicBooks, 1995. Print.

Stampp, Kenneth M., Professor of American History at the University of California (Berkeley).
   The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South. Vintage Books, 1955. Print.