Friday, May 27

Top Gun: Maverick Review

Top Gun: Maverick

Dir: Joseph Kosinski

Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Bashir Salahuddin, Charles Parnell, Lewis Pullman, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis, and Ed Harris

2h 11m


In the opening of director Joseph Kosinski’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” a sequel to the beloved 1986 film, the iconic theme plays over scenes of a fighter jet prepping for takeoff. And as the engines explode and the jet booms into the sky, Kenny Loggin’s “Danger Zone” pumps through the speakers. In these first few minutes of the film, without a single line of dialog spoken, it’s clear that “Top Gun: Maverick” targets the cinematic nostalgia of the late 1980s. 


Tom Cruise returns as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, upgraded from Lieutenant to Captain but still arrogantly brazen with the higher-ups looking to ground him once and for all. Times are changing, drones are making the top aviators obsolete, and Maverick realizes that his time in the sky might be coming to an end. Stationed at a test facility in the Mojave Desert, Maverick defies orders from an Admiral (Ed Harris) and pushes an advanced jet to Mach 10 speed. Things don’t end well. The Admiral, in response to Maverick’s final plea against droned pilots, tells him, “The future is coming, and you aren’t in it.” 


“Top Gun: Maverick” is a sequel, but it feels more like a reboot. From a story perspective, the framework is similar, in some ways identical, to the original film. Scenes feel pulled from the 1986 movie, updated with new faces, and reintroduced for modern times. Tom Cruise chases a jet on a motorcycle, shirtless sports are played in the sand, and one character swaggers and taunts other pilots in the Top Gun program with smirking, blond-haired similarities of a past character. It’s lazy storytelling, but something in the charming tone, purposefully old school style and action-packed pacing hides the faulty parts. 


Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), whose late father Nick “Goose” Bradshaw was Mavericks wingman from the original film, is recruited to an elite squad of pilots to fly a top-secret mission with parameters that seem impossible for an average pilot. After being saved from court-martial by Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), Maverick is ordered back to the Top Gun academy to teach and prepare the pilots for the mission. 


The addition of Rooster offers a nice conflict to the story, and Teller is more than capable of holding his own against Cruise. While Rooster’s story plays just a small piece in the film, it helps connect the dots between Maverick’s unresolved emotions from the past and the resistance he exhibits moving into the future. The death of Goose and the failure Maverick feels in being a father figure to Rooster are quickly examined but do a decent enough job of introducing internal conflict that requires resolve


The more superficial conflict is examined through the lens of zooming jets in combat in the sky. The action is exceptional throughout the film, with most scenes featuring the actual actors twisting, turning, and being placed in situations with the immense forces exerted on their bodies. It’s exciting filmmaking to watch, adding another element to blur the lines between the special visual effects and reality, a trait is has become a calling card for any Tom Cruise fronted adventure


“Top Gun: Maverick,” with its purposeful nostalgic callbacks and familiar storytelling design, is a delightful movie. Watch it on a giant screen and prepare yourself for a popcorn movie of the highest cinematic gratification of recent years.  


Monte’s Rating

4.00 out of 5.00


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