Top Gun: Maverick is primarily Tom Cruise, but he has also brought together talents such as Ed Harris, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, and Glen Powell in front of the camera with backstage geniuses like director Joseph Kosinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie.
It provides just over two hours of pulsating, adrenaline-pumping entertainment, packed to the brim with acting, emotion, nostalgia, and a bit of humor. Moreover, it is a movie of an aerial rush of the rare where modern fighter jets in spectacular sequences barks with a full blast on the sound system of the large cinema hall.
For old “Top Gun” fans, like me, it’s also a little touchy to see Pete “Maverick” Mitchell again and see how he is haunted by the ghosts of the past.
Those who have a close relationship with “Top Gun” know what it’s about, but the script is structured in a smart way that makes the story work just as effectively for everyone else.
“Top Gun: Maverick” may extend its credibility even further than its 36-year-old predecessor, but it’s easy to forgive because the film entertains formidably well!
Ruthless Maverick called back to Top Gun after 30 Years
The action takes place around 30 years after the events of the original, and Maverick has always avoided promotion so that he can do what he loves most – flying.
Commander Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) works as a test pilot but is called back to the Top Gun Academy just north of San Diego to train a group of young pilots for a particularly dangerous mission.
One of the pilots turns out to be Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of Mitchell’s old co-pilot “Goose”, who died in a plane crash. This is a problem, because “Rooster” has never forgiven “Maverick” for what happened to his father.
At the same time, “Maverick” picks up the thread with a character who was only referred to by name in the original, namely Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly).
So much is at stake for him on a personal level, both the sense of responsibility and the bad conscience towards Goose’s son and the dream of a possible future with Penny, while he tries to train the pilots for a mission that not everyone will necessarily return from.
Perfectly Worthy Sequel
Making a worthy sequel to an almost legendary film can be a minefield. And when the previous film was released over a generation ago, the stakes are even higher. It must appeal to fans of the original, who have loved it for years and can quote it verbatim.
From the very beginning, he sends clear signals that the film acknowledges its origin, both with the music, the font of the foreword, and sun-bathed images of fighter jets taking off from an aircraft carrier. Also later in the film, several elements are copied from the original, without it feeling unnecessary or excessive.
It appears more like an appreciative nod to what the late director Tony Scott managed in 1986, namely to make “rock n roll in the sky”, as he himself called it.
It’s nice to see “In memory of Tony Scott” on the caption, just as it gives a nostalgic buzz to see the legendary logo of “Top Gun” producers Don Simpson & Jerry Bruckheimer at the very beginning. Bruckheimer is also one of the producers now, while Simpson, unfortunately, died in 1996, only 52 years old.
Keeps The Voltage Curve High Up
Although “Top Gun: Maverick” borrows a lot from the original, it has several new and extremely tough tools up its sleeve.
The visuals are significantly enhanced by the fact that many of the cockpit scenes are actually recorded with the actors in real planes in the air. It may be difficult to imagine the feeling of the G-forces in a fighter plane, but the proximity to the faces gives you an absolute impression of the rush it can give.
The final assignment contains more than enough moments that keep the tension curve high, even when certain situations make you almost have to laugh a little indulgently.
Jaw-droppingly Fantastic Flight Scenes
The new generation of skilled pilots and Maverick’s training for the mission takes up the second half of the film. One comes loaded with a large part of his story – Bradley Bradshaw, aka Rooster (Teller), son of Goose, Maverick’s partner in the first film.
The second half is about the fantastic flight scenes. Though, the first film set a new standard with fight scenes, Top Gun: Maverick takes it to another world with pilots experiencing violent G-forces in scenes. It will make your jaw hit your knees and your knuckles turn white at the same time. Add strong emotions when we are allowed to believe that an important member of the crew has paid the ultimate price.
The excitement is almost unbearable, the action dizzying and the experience is everything you can expect from something filmed in IMAX. Ideally, this is where you should see it, or on the largest possible screen.
Electrifying Characterizations with Tom Cruise’s Loserless Power
And then it’s Tom Cruise. His indisputable star power gives the film both credibility and emotionality. This film’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell seems like a natural extension of the cheeky young boy we met in the first film.
He still has the joy of flying but is older (even if he stays damned well) and wiser. At the same time, it gives the impression that he is obviously dreaming of more stable relationships on a personal level, something the reunion with Penny might give him (but it’s a shame that the film never refers to what happened to Charley, Kelly McGillis’ character from the original).
Miles Teller is good as “Rooster”, a reflection of how both his father and “Maverick” were as young, confident pilots, but I think the film could have spent a little more time on the conflict between them. When the external tension increases, the human part of the story ends up a little too far in the back game.
Apart from this, “Top Gun: Maverick” has a few weaknesses. Tom Cruise & Co has no intention of breaking out of the framework set by the first film but still manages to give the cinema audience large amounts of streamlined fun with a touch of bittersweet nostalgia.