Tom Cruise may be a certified loon and a bonafide crazy person, but the kid can act (How you doin’?)
1986’s Top Gun was one of the shining examples of the Reagan era of American cinema. The blend of macho competitiveness, hot babes, and soft rock comes from an era that modern Hollywood would love to bury in its backyard.
Now when most people hear about Hollywood making a sequel to a classic film, their first reaction is to groan at the idea of their expectations of a good movie being “subverted.” But there is one X-factor that makes this film different from the rest…Tom Cruise.
One thing you have to give Cruise credit for is that he is one of a dying breed of filmmakers who still cares about the theater viewing audience. In an age where major studios are trying to pull movies from theaters as fast as they can in an effort to boost their Netflix-style streaming services, Tom Cruise is a man who believes in the live audience.
What would be the point of doing such wild and crazy stunts if the people at home didn’t have to put up the effort to drive to the theater? When Cruise goes all-in on a project, he goes ALL IN, which is why ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ isn’t just a sequel to a film that was a hit 38 years ago, it is the blueprint to how Hollywood should handle all sequels; maximum effort or don’t bother at all.
Set 30 years after the events of the original Top Gun movie, not much has changed for Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) who has dodged advancement in rank in order to continue flying jets throughout 36 years of Naval service.
After a political stunt to save the Darkstar program angers his superior Rear Admiral Cain (Ed Harris), Maverick is sent back down to San Diego and placed in charge of training a group of Top Gun graduates for a specialized mission under the orders of Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer). Among the graduates is Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late best friend “Goose” and the tension between the two is palpable.
The pilots are told that they have been assembled for a special mission to preemptively destroy the uranium facility inside a mountainous canyon protected by anti-aircraft missiles. The team needs to complete the impossible mission within 2 minutes and 30 seconds or else the odds of survival will plummet.
With the fate of a group of young pilots on his hands, Maverick attempts to juggle responsibility, loss, and love the only way he knows how, to be Maverick.
Let’s not bury the lead. ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is a near-perfect movie. With Tom Cruise as the producer, the film spares no expense on making this film as authentic as possible. This is a film that was delayed for years in order to perfect the high octane stunts and visuals and the extra mile in effort pays off.
Real aircraft, real actors, and real stunts that are so impressive, you might think that you are watching a Mission Impossible movie.
The movie is a spectacle for fans of the action genre as it lives and breathes on creating near death tension. The flight sequences are immersive and technology is detailed from the type of planes used, how they stack up against modern machinery, and the film even plays out smart geopolitical wargames between nations.
The cast is spectacular from top to bottom. Despite pushing 60, Cruise is still Maverick. Cruise played his role to perfection with unrivaled respect for the character and the source material. The younger cast plays their roles well given the limited screen time they have with Glen Powell being the standout with a next-level arrogant level of charisma.
Jennifer Connelly plays Maverick’s new love interest “Penny” and she brings a smile to your face every time she is onscreen. Val Kilmer returns for a heart-string pulling scene as “Iceman,” many who are unaware of his recent health issues may not recognize him but his impact is felt throughout the film.
The film not only respects the film that came before it but goes out of its way to preserve its legacy, a lesson modern Hollywood would benefit from learning.
The only negative of this film is that some of the characters are not as fleshed out as they should be. Miles Teller’s character of Rooster is a perfect example of this. Rooster carries a big piece of the emotional weight of this story but the film doesn’t focus on his character when he is not in a scene with Maverick.
When a movie has three screenwriters (Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie), things tend to get left on the cutting room floor and with Tom Cruise having a high degree of power, there are fine details that come out as muddied rather than polished.
Despite the 131-minute runtime, the film is well-paced so an extra 15 minutes could have gone a long way towards patching up some minor issues with the storytelling.
A lot has changed since 1986, Top Gun: Maverick takes full advantage of the upgrade in technology not just in its vehicles but in filmmaking as well. Tom Cruise may be an insane perfectionist but without him, we wouldn’t have gotten what amounts to the best film in 2022 so far.
- High Octane Action
- Great Attention To Detail
- Amazing Stunts
- Characters Need More Fleshing Out
- Three Screenwriters
- Miles Tiller Underused