Saturday 11 June 2022

Top Gun: Maverick (Movie Review)

Long before he became one of Hollywood's most recognizable leading men, Tom Cruise had starred in Top Gun, a film that would go on to become one of the biggest breakout movies of the 1980s. Not only would it gross several times its production budget during its original theatrical run, but it would also produce a successful soundtrack album that would earn it an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Despite all that success, it would take three and a half decades before we finally got a sequel in the form of Top Gun: Maverick. Now that the new film is out in theaters, I figured I would share my thoughts on whether or not it was worth the wait.

The film takes place 36 years after the original, with Captain Pete Mitchell, aka Maverick (Tom Cruise), still working as a naval pilot. Unlike most of his peers, he has refused to advance within the Navy's ranks, just so he can continue flying. But after a reckless maneuver during a test flight causes his superiors to ground him indefinitely, he is given a lifeline by an old friend (Val Kilmer). He is to return to TOPGUN, a school where the very best naval aviators get trained. But not as a student, but rather as an instructor for a new batch of hotshot pilots, as they prepare for the most dangerous mission of their collective careers.

On the surface, a movie like Top Gun: Maverick might look like yet another attempt by a Hollywood studio to revive an old intellectual property using nostalgia and star power. But to dismiss it as such would be doing a disservice to the amount of love and care that has gone into crafting the film. Director Joseph Kosinski has already shown that he has a keen eye for striking visuals through films like Tron: Legacy and Oblivion, and the same vision is on full display in his latest film. The whole thing was filmed in 6K IMAX with over 800 hours of aerial photography captured. The result is some of the most breathtaking visuals to be shown at the cinemas all year and a movie that simply begs to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

All those beautiful shots wouldn't mean anything if the film itself didn't have a decent enough story holding everything together, or if that story didn't center around a cast of relatable characters. Thankfully, the movie has both those areas covered with a solid script that hits all the required story beats as it builds up to an intense climax. Tom Cruise also gives one of his better performances while his co-stars all get to shine in their own ways. The fact that a lot of the film was filmed inside the cockpits of actual fighter jets thousands of feet in the air lends those performances a believability that can't be replicated on a green screen, and the film is better for it.

If there's one aspect of the movie that I could single out for criticism then that would have to be just how heavily it leans into the nostalgia factor. The film practically opens with a shot-for-shot reenactment of the first film's title sequence. It also has a number of callbacks sprinkled throughout its runtime. These include everything from Miles Teller's Rooster rocking the same mustache as Goose, as well as an overreliance on flashbacks to help fill in the gaps of its story. But it is hard to truly fault the movie for any of this, not when everything else is handled so well.

Top Gun: Maverick is another rare sequel that manages to improve upon its predecessor in every conceivable way. It joins the ranks of Blade Runner 2049 and Mad Max: Fury Road to serve as shining examples of how old franchises can be updated for a modern-day audience. While its success is only going to open the floodgates for even more 80s films to be revived or rebooted in the months and years to come, I am still glad that we got this one and that it turned out as well as it did.


  1. On Facebook I said if you were an actor in an 80s movie you better make sure agents have your number because the phone is going to ring. I thought Cruise's character was already teaching at the school at the end of the first movie but whatever. I'll probably see it at some point. From what I heard, the military charged them $11,000/hour to use the jets so good it's making a lot of money.

    1. That's true. He did become an instructor for TOPGUN at the end of the last film but that only lasted about two months apparently. And I hope you enjoy it as well when you eventually see it.