The action flick, which almost single-handedly recharged the dwindling film industry after the stagnation caused by COVID-19 lockdowns, has been nominated for six Oscars, including "Best Picture."
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Aleem revealed he was not as pleased with the film as millions of American movie goers. Though he admitted it was "a breath of fresh air to see dazzling live-action aerial combat scenes involving real actors (trained to withstand G forces by real pilots) and (mostly) real planes," the columnist slammed it for being "as insidious as it is entertaining."
He declared it is insidious because of its overt pride for the American military, saying, "it also beckons for a return to accepting the American war machine as a beacon of virtue and excitement."
Aleem added, "It’s a poisonous kind of nostalgia, one that smuggles love of endless war into a celebration of live action."
The columnist reduced the film about patriotism, family, and U.S. resilience against unimaginably tough odds to "literal propaganda," pointing to the U.S. Defense Department’s contributions to the film.
He explained, "In exchange for access to military aircraft, the producers of the movie agreed to allow the Defense Department to include its own ‘key talking points’ in the script. Perhaps equally important, the script had to be written in a manner that flatters the military in order to secure the buy-in of the Pentagon."
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As such, Aleem said, "This collaboration in jingoism is evident throughout the script."
Elsewhere in his column, he expressed hope that the film "tanks at the Oscars," adding, "It’s possible to make thrilling action without so brazenly priming the public for warfare."
Aleem then pointed to the top-secret aircraft featured at the outset of the film during a test flight, claiming this scene is proof "Maverick is also operating on behalf of more nefarious forces."
He says, "All we know is that the jet looks sleek and powerful. Yet there is a strange desperation to risk life and limb for it, as if a weapons program is a soldier that’s never meant to be left behind. Maverick embodies the American bipartisan spirit of forever increasing the U.S. colossal defense budget."
He then skewered the film over its main mission, to go and bomb a "a nuclear enrichment site which could very well be in Iran." Aleem called it a "a striking choice that betrays a bellicose worldview. It revives the neoconservative conception of preventive warfare — the idea of using force to eliminate threats to American power before they can emerge."
He returned to a general critique of the film, saying, "War is portrayed purely as a source of glory and camaraderie for Maverick and his colleagues, who are all attractive people and manage to pull off their daring mission with zero casualties. Their training involves speed, sport and glamour."
He added, "Much of the movie has the feel of a racing or sports movie, gamifying the use of lethal technology and geopolitical intervention as a contest of precise oneupmanship."