Top Gun joins the ranks of film franchises that return after decades for a sequel. It breathes a new life into the iconic property and finds something there that was present previously. And it still manages to be a fast-paced powerhouse of amazing flight sequences. Here’s what we thought about the Tom Cruise sequel in our spoiler-free Top Gun: Maverick review.
Top Gun: Maverick Review — A Maturing Maverick
Tom Cruise is back as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and still doing his cocky pilot thing. He’s breaking speed records, defying orders, and getting admiral angered. But he’s getting a bit long in the tooth for such recklessness.
Ed Harris appears for a bit as an admiral who is reassigning Maverick back to Top Gun. But he won’t be expected to pilot and instead instruct the next generation. I mean, he’ll still pilot anyway, but now he has extra duties.
Maverick’s new task in Top Gun: Maverick to instruct young pilots on a dangerous mission leads to him being reunited with Rooster (Miles Teller). Rooster is the son of Goose (Anthony Edwards), the pilot who Maverick still blames himself for not saving in the previous picture. Now would be the perfect time to be the better pilot and ensure that Rooster doesn’t meet the same fate as Goose.
Amazing Sights of Flights
Of course, most people will not be buying tickets for Top Gun: Maverick for the Maverick redemption arc, strong as it is. They’re coming for the high-flying sequences and intense dogfights. Director Joseph Kosinski doesn’t disappoint.
The many sequences of Maverick’s training and leading the mission are incredibly exciting. The editing of these scenes is fast-paced with great shots, ranging from claustrophobic cockpits to eye-popping long shots of the zooming jets. It’s so easy to get lost in the majesty of these dazzling shots, especially when watching the film in IMAX.
Here’s how easy it is to get lost within these sequences in Top Gun: Maverick. Throughout the film, it is never once mentioned what nationality or political motivation is present in the enemy. They’re only referred to as people with old jets and nukes who aim to cause chaos.
And yet this ambiguous target doesn’t bother me so much because it’s really not that important. None of the specifics matter once the jets start flying. It’s more about the allure of the tech than the questioning of combat, albeit the dangers present with piloting in general.
More Than Jets
The entire cast brings their A-game to this picture. In addition to Tom Cruise and Miles Teller delivering some strong performances, there’s some fine support present. Jon Hamm (Mad Men) is perfectly cast as the vice-admiral assigned to chew out Maverick and Glen Powell works well as the cocky pilot Hangman in need of a good lesson about teamwork.
I especially dug the bit of romance thrown in with Jennifer Connelly playing Penny, a single mother and bar owner near the NAVY base. She has enough spunk to make Maverick pay for a round of drinks and make him work for finding the love he lost. It also helps that they connect romantically through motorcycles and sailboats.
Even Val Kilmer as the returning pilot Iceman plays a pivotal role in Maverick’s decisions to return and reform. Having risen to the ranks of admiral, Kilmer’s character can’t speak well (per Kilmer’s current health) but still manages to bring some heart and soul to the picture. It works surprisingly well in giving great tribute to the underrated actor in his twilight years.
Callbacks More Pleasant Than Tedious
To Gun: Maverick does feature some familiar scenes and even a few returning highlights of the soundtrack. Thankfully, they’re not merely presented as nostalgic retreads devoid of cleverness. Of course, nothing can quite beat the Top Gun score and it’s still present with Hans Zimmer giving the track a new kick.
One scene repeated is the beach sports sequence of fun in the sun. This scene was once thought to be both comical and ripe for queer theory. This latest version places greater importance on the aspects of teamwork, as highlighted by Cruise when he is chewed out by Hamm.
There are a few flashbacks that draw footage from the original Top Gun film. The good news is they draw to important aspects. For instance, it really hits Maverick to see another group of young pilots singing in the bar the same way he once did, highlighting a passage of time he can’t quite fight against. Tom Cruise missed it so much, he shared the same moments with The Late Late Show host James Corden.
Conclusion: Top Gun: Maverick Review
The sequel to Top Gun flies higher than the previous film with way more to explore and greater excitement to be had. Cruise still makes for a strong action star, Teller delivers his finest performance in some time, and the jet sequences alone are worth the price of admission. It’s as much a treat for the eyes as it is a compelling NAVY drama.
Did you see Top Gun: Maverick in theaters? What did you think of it? How does it compare to the original? Let us know in the comments below.
Top Gun: Maverick is currently playing in theaters.