Hot Gun: Maverick
There is a growing body of evidence that the world that we are experiencing is just one of many possible realities. Each decision made by a conscious creature creating an entirely different/parallel world. A multiverse of infinite different scenarios based loosely on our own circumstance.
I would like to take you to one of those worlds.
Like ours, Tom Cruise is the star of the biggest movie on the planet. Except in this particular planet it is called Hot Gun: Maverick.
Because in this reality there is one small difference; there are no aircraft. Air travel is done exclusively by hot air balloon. This could be explained in a number of ways. Against all odds, the civilization in question might never have figured out flight. Electricity? Yes. Thrust? No. Or perhaps they have strict rules against it. Preferring to travel, and fight their wars, in a more serene and dignified manner.
Whatever the case, in this world Tom Cruise plays Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a cocky balloon pilot who is once again called into action due to a set of circumstance identical to that of our version of the movie.
The trailer starts the same, the heart-racing visuals of a ballooncraft carrier swarming with crewmen, the blood-pumping song Danger Zone, sung by the same Kenny Loggins, thumping away in the background as the men scramble to inflate a hot air balloon.
It’s important to note two things. First, the ballooncraft carrier is identical to the aircraft carriers we use. Huge. Bristling with the latest technology and whatnot. The only difference being that it transports hot air balloons. Which brings us to the second thing… it takes about thirty minutes to inflate one.
Audiences in this reality are a lot more patient.
I’ll get this out of the way right now; the running time of the movie is about forty three hours. People invest a lot when they go to the theater. They pack a change of clothes. In the first movie, when Maverick does a flyby of the tower, it takes over seven minutes before the guy notices him floating by, smiling the whole time in those great sunglasses, and spills coffee on his shirt. When it does finally happen the audience erupts in cheers, feeling the seven minutes was more than worth it.
Did I mention the trailer for the movie is over an hour?
It includes the flashback montage of Maverick being cleared of responsibility in the tragic death of his Radar Intercept Officer, LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (who fell out of the basket due to unforeseen ‘balloon wash’) and how it haunts him to this day, and it shows the scene where he comes to the aid of Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, when the two enemy balloons shown on radar suddenly are revealed to be four: “I’ll be there in forty five minutes!” he says to Iceman, while back on the carrier a senior officer mutters “It will be over in thirty.”
It sounds like a long time to us, but in this reality audiences expect a hot air balloon fight to last an extremely long time.
In the new movie dominating their box office, and causing all sorts of chaos due to staffing issues with everyone being gone for almost two days, the plot is the same. Maverick has to try and teach the brash, know-it-all younger pilots how to maneuver their balloons through a narrow canyon, up a steep mountainside, down again to the bottom, deliver their payload and then float back out the other side.
Eventually it becomes clear to everyone that only he can pull off such a crazy mission.
When it comes time for the action sequences, no expense is spared. Audiences can hear the roar of the burner as it injects the flame into the envelope and they can practically smell the burning wicker as the balloons fight it out over hostile territory.
The hours just fly by.
Until there is only the memory of balloons floating lazily back to the carriers to celebrate their big win as the credits roll.
I think about their version of Top Gun and I have to admit I feel a small pang of envy. I also feel a small pang of pity if you don’t take a few moments and truly picture their version in your head for a few minutes. Think through the details. It was the best part of my day yesterday. I must have laughed a dozen times.