Edgar Wright made a surprising contribution to Top Gun: Maverick in the form of a memorable needle drop. With a screenplay by Mission: Impossible‘s Christopher McQuarrie and directed by Oblivion‘s Joseph Kosinski, the Top Gun sequel released in theaters this past Memorial Day and has proven time and time again to be a box office phenomenon, still playing in theaters and making money after four months. The legacy sequel finds Tom Cruise’s Maverick returning to the Top Gun program thirty years after graduating to train a new generation of young fighter pilots for a dangerous mission.
Wright, on the other hand, has never made a blockbuster quite as big as Top Gun: Maverick. Instead, the English filmmaker rose to prominence for satirical genre films like the zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead, the first installment in his Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy which also includes the buddy-cop comedy Hot Fuzz and the sci-fi comedy The World’s End. Wright’s highest-grossing film to date is the action-packed Baby Driver, and his most recent movie was the psychedelic Last Night in Soho. However, it appears the filmmaker also had his fingerprints on this past summer’s biggest blockbuster.
During a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Wright reveals his involvement in Top Gun: Maverick. In need of a song for the first act’s bar sequence, one of the film’s writers, McQuarrie, reached out to Wright to see if he had any suggestions. The Cornetto Trilogy director checked his already curated playlist, “Maverick Bar,” and got back to the screenwriter with his recommendation: Foghat’s “Slow Ride,” which can be heard during the scene in question. Read Wright recount the series of events below:
In terms of the Foghat thing, they needed a song. My dream text to get was Chris McQuarrie saying, “Hey, we need a new song for the bar scene in Top Gun: Maverick. What can you think of that’s like …?” And it was like, “Oh, give me 45 minutes!” I think I still have that playlist on Spotify; it was “Maverick Bar.” So that stuff is just fun to me.
Top Gun: Maverick Continues Edgar Wright’s Tradition Of Excellent Needle Drops
Over his filmmaking career, Wright has demonstrated an incredible knack for choosing memorable needle drops. This talent was best showcased on Baby Driver, as Ansel Elgort’s main character curates the film’s soundtrack in real-time as the story unfolds. Music also plays an important role in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, as Micheal Cera’s slacker musician tries to win a battle of the bands competition, with the film featuring many songs from real Toronto-based bands. Another memorable needle drop from Wright’s filmography is Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” in Shaun of the Dead, which plays during the climactic fight scene that, coincidentally, also takes place in a bar.
Now, surprisingly, Top Gun: Maverick continues Wright’s trend of excellent soundtrack curation. Despite its massive popularity, Foghat’s “Slow Ride” doesn’t have the best reputation, due to its overtly suggestive subtext. But, as Wright knows, a great needle drop is all about choosing the right song for a certain time and place, and using it as an opportunity to reveal something about the characters. For Top Gun: Maverick, “Slow Ride” was the perfect song for a bar full of naval cohorts – when it comes on, Glen Powell’s Hangman even remarks, “I love this song.“