If you’ve ever watched the original “Top Gun”, and felt that what the movie needs is an appearance from Miles Teller, you’re probably alone in that belief.
Teller’s career has been interesting to say the least. At first he had initial success playing the new generation’s answer to Daniel Radcliffe or Elijah Wood. In other words, he’s solid as a generic, boring protagonist.
Then, something happened. Maybe Teller picked up a few too many dud roles. Maybe his behavior behind-the-scenes on movie started gaining too much notoriety. Before long, Teller went from being an okay-ish if bland actor to the new Shia LaBeouf.
But, as with LaBeouf, Teller has proven that a bad reputation can never harm the career of a white male actor in Hollywood.
Teller has now signed on to play the son of Goose in the upcoming “Top Gun 2”.
This movie (titled “Top Gun: Maverick”, is headlined by Tom Cruise. Another bland white male actor with a sordid reputation who is inexplicably still allowed to be a movie star.
This is a coincidence, right? It’s not as if the studio is deliberately trying to make “Top Gun 2” as unappealing as possible?
Whatever the logic here, I can’t shake the feeling that Teller might actually be pretty perfect for Goose 2.0.
The Annoying Twerp
We’re probably not supposed to like this character. You don’t hire Teller to play, say, Scorpius Malfoy, the son of the hero’s rival who is nevertheless incredibly sweet and likable.
No, I suspect that this story will revolve around Teller’s character as he comes to blows with Maverick over the death of his father.
In this kind of role, I can see Teller doing really well. He played something similar in the “Divergent” series, in a role as a slimy, untrustworthy dirtbag who (occasionally) does the right thing, albeit for the wrong reasons.
If you need an actor to play this kind of role in Hollywood today, Teller is a pretty solid choice. The audience already hates the guy before the movie even starts, and he makes Tom Cruise look a little less weird by comparison.
If only slightly.
The big problem will be if Teller’s oily veneer rubs off too much on a movie that’s already struggling under the weight of Tom Cruise’s unblinking toothy grin.
The Problem with Unpopularity
Sure, “Top Gun: Maverick” is going to appeal to fans of the original, but is there a wider audience for the movie considering that two of the big leads are somewhat less appealing than a bag of dried moss?
With many of their recent movies, it’s become clear that neither Teller nor Cruise can really pull in an audience on star power alone. There’s a case to be made for the possibility that (outside of certain key franchises) the pair are both box office poison.
I can imagine people considering going to see this movie, and thinking that maybe they can tolerate seeing a smarmy Tom Cruise on-screen. But can they also put up with seeing Miles Teller’s face for two hours?
Perhaps I’m being overly harsh to both Teller and Cruise. The “Mission Impossible” series shows that, under the right circumstances, people are eager to watch Cruise put himself in significant danger. There might be a certain catharsis to this.
As for Miles Teller, well, he was fine in “Whiplash”. And he is genuinely good at playing unlikable people, for some strange reason. He could very well make this work.
Plus, let’s face it, the original “Top Gun” is all about unlikable jerks doing jerky stuff. I can’t really expect the sequel to revolutionize the formula.
The dealbreaker will come if ever the movie tries to get us to sympathize with either Maverick or Baby Goose.
The moment we’re supposed to care what either of these characters are feeling, the entire story is doomed.