Top Gun: Maverick – Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

No, it may not be 1986 anymore, but Tom Cruise is doing his damnedest to make you believe otherwise. Not only in keeping his Mission Impossible success show running stronger than ever before, but bringing back this much beloved US Naval recruitment ad to blockbuster bliss. Tom Cruise refuses to let his younger days define his legacy, as he still manages to provide the same level of high octane thrills that once turned him into one of Hollywood’s biggest household names.

Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Cruise) still lives by his ‘need for speed’ moto and continues to live his life with the same level of reckless abandon he always has done. We see this in the movie’s first big scene, where Maverick pushes the boundaries of his job, which doesn’t go down well with his superiors (a recurring impulse in Pete’s persona). He still lives with the guilt of his partners death, ‘Goose’ (Anthony Edwards) which comes back full circle when Mitchell is personally requested by his old wingman ‘Iceman’ (Val Kilmer) to aid in the training of recruits for a secret op using a fighter jet in which Mitchell has plenty of experience. The kicker is one of those recruits is Goose’s now grown son, Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw (Miles Teller). Is history to repeat itself, or can Maverick bring everybody home from a mission that seems… impossible.

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With the loss of original director Tony Scott some years ago, Joseph Kosinski reunites with Cruise – having worked together on Oblivion (2013) – to bring this once eccentric and highly popular 80’s classic back to the big screen, but providing it with a fresh and updated sheen. Love it or hate it Top Gun (1986) is truly a staple of its era. It had the cheese, the melodrama, a corny script and a pop-tastic soundtrack that is still remembered to this day. But filmmaking has moved a long way from the days where this was the norm within Hollywood. Kosinski’s direction is far more grounded, rich and atmospherically alluring. With much of the action shot in the small confines of the cockpit, cinematographer Claudio Miranda (who had also previously worked on Oblivion), creates these realistic and gorgeous shots that witnessing on a big screen is quite something to behold.

Kosinski also reunites with Only the Brave (2017) stars Miles Teller and Jennifer Connelly. Both of which get the most to do outside of Cruise’s inevitable top billing. As previously stated Teller’s role is crucial to Mitchell’s character. There’s more to their story than just the relationship shared between ‘Maverick’ and Bradley’s father ‘Goose’, which he still carries the weight of responsibility regarding his death. We discover Penny Benjamin (Connelly) is an old flame of Mitchell’s, who he is reunited with when he is stationed at his new post.

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But here is where I come to one of my first gripes (although small). Beyond these characters, much else of what this film has in terms of character is left fairly bare. Jon Hamm as tough ball Adm. Beau ‘Cyclone’ Simpson is fun, especially when giving us some fiery exchanges between himself and Mitchell. And of the plucky new recruits (minus Rooster) Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin (Glen Powell) and Natasha ‘Pheonix’ Trace (Monica Barbaro) act as fairly strong secondaries in the script department. But with there being such an emphasis on Mitchell’s character, and the time that has passed since the events in the first movie, the fate of these characters (along with others) feels inconsequential.

With there being so many of these ‘reboots’ or incredibly delayed sequels as of late, it’s becoming more apparent as to what people want or expect. Top Gun: Maverick does a great job of respecting its original source, and respecting the characters of the past whether on or off screen, whilst giving enough attention to the new and creating its own identity.

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I’m not a huge lover of the original. It came out before my time and I watched it fairly late into my love and admiration for cinema that it certainly felt like a product of its time. A time when Hollywood really had a grasp on action and popcorn entertainment and as a result the expectations fell short for me. Top Gun: Maverick exceeds beyond what the original created. Both in script and spectacle. Not only a sequel that has earned the right to be called such, but one that elevates its original source and rebrands it entirely.

Kosinski gives it some wings and Cruise allows it to not only fly but soar above expectations. A pure popcorn thrill ride that utilises its set and sound design to be best accompanied with the biggest screen possible.

1 Comment

  1. I preferred the original, probably because Cruise was younger & I think more handsome…😍…I missed Tom Skerett as Viper, what a sexy guy…😘…as for Peggy, well I spent most of the film trying to remember what the connection was to the first film, which I have watched many, many times…still can’t fathom her connection to Maverick 🤷‍♀️…It was OK & some very clever cinematography but basically it was just fast planes flying faster & more dangerously than in Top Gun 1

    Liked by 1 person

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