Top Gun: Maverick soars higher than anyone could’ve expected. Top Gun is an 80’s classic, but it was never a big favorite of mine. So I wasn’t sure how to feel about a sequel over 30 years later. Tom Cruise initially shot down the idea until his mind was changed around 2010. Original director Tony Scott was replaced by Oblivion collaborator Joseph Kosinski after the former’s death. Although Top Gun: Maverick was pushed back several times, it all worked out when it became the unexpected highest grossing movie of the year. Making Maverick the second Pandemic era movie to cross a billion dollars after Spider-Man: No Way Home. A superhero movie makes sense, but Maverick really earned its recognition. In the age of Mission: Impossible, Tom Cruise went out of his way to film real ariel stunts in real fighter planes. I saw Maverick on my birthday and I was blown away.
Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is still captain after over 30 years in the Navy. Ed Harris and John Hamm are his newest superiors. Maverick is currently a test pilot for a top secret supersonic jet called “Darkstar.” They hooked me with “Danger Zone,” but I was immediately won over when Maverick reached Mach 10. Though it is another legacy sequel, Maverick isn’t non-stop fan service. We get a shot of Maverick riding a motorcycle, but there’s also much deeper character motivations. As suggested at the end of the first movie, Maverick becomes an instructor at Top Gun. Iceman is now a Navy commander who has a strong friendship with Maverick. Val Kilmer has a surprise appearance that managed to make me cry. Since Kelly McGillis hasn’t aged as well as Cruise, Charlie is replaced by Jennifer Connelly as the Admiral’s daughter who was briefly mentioned in Top Gun. Penny Benjamin is a single mother bar owner who rekindles her relationship with Maverick. The Oscar winning “Take My Breath Away” is replaced by the Lady Gaga song “Hold My Hand.”
The only other song callback is “Great Balls of Fire” sung by Goose’s son Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw in a bar. Miles Teller is the spitting image of Anthony Edwards right down to the mustache. Maverick deals with the death of his best friend while trying to protect Rooster. Though Meg Ryan doesn’t make an appearance, his mother is a big part of Maverick’s motivation. The other flight students are more likeable than most next generation sequel characters. Glen Powell as Hangman is the perfect cocky pilot who redeems himself. Monica Barbaro as the only female pilot Phoenix is in no way heavy handed. At least she balances out a mandatory game of sweaty beach football. Despite the advancement of drones, pilots are still necessary for a dangerous mission. Unlike the first movie, I was able to follow the mission very well. Pilots have to maneuver a trench in order to hit a small target while avoiding enemy fire. Like the first movie, the enemy is never explicitly revealed, but it leads to an exciting climax. There’s an 80’s charm to the original, but Top Gun: Maverick is a vast improvement.
Preceded by: Top Gun