Top Gun: Maverick | Review

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Screenwriters: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, and Val Kilmer
Cinematographer: Claudio Miranda

I have a confession to make.

There aren’t many actors or actresses who make me want to run to the theater to see their projects. Truth be told, I tend to follow the work of directors more so than those they choose to cast. But then there’s Tom Cruise…

For some reason, I jet to the theater any time I see a movie from him. It’s because Tom never disappoints me when it comes to providing great entertainment made for the big screen. He has a charm about him that captivates me unlike any other entertainer. Whether it’s perfecting his own crazy and dangerous stunts from films like those in the Mission Impossible franchise, making me gawk at his marathon-like running ability, or even lending his suaveness in the form of a quick smirk, Tom Cruise has a way of getting my butt in a movie theater chair by any means necessary.

In his latest, he delivers another great performance that reminds us that it’s never too late to jump back into our need for speed. Top Gun: Maverick, the 36-year direct follow-up to Top Gun (1986) sees Pete “Maverick” Mitchell avoid the rise in ranks to maintain his ability to soar the skies as one of the Navy’s best aviators/test pilots. After receiving orders from his friend and formal rival Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, Maverick is sent to Top Gun to train the best former graduates for a special mission. Realizing one of his trainees is none other than Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of his late best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, Maverick must find a way to bury the burdens of his past to ensure that Rooster can have a future.

Scott Garfield. © 2019 Paramount Pictures Corporation. All rights reserved.

After 36 years, Tom Cruise returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and proved to fans (and critics) of the first Top Gun that a long-awaited sequel can be entertaining, deserved, and of high quality. Behind Joseph Kosinski’s lens, Top Gun: Maverick isn’t just entertaining, it’s heartfelt and well-acted, and it reminds audiences of the value of seeing films like this in theaters.

My favorite part of this anticipated sequel is certainly the character arc for Cruise’s Maverick. After nearly 4 decades, he “naturally” remains in the skies, refusing to give up that life for even the slightest promotion. As expected, that spontaneous and somewhat reckless tendency remains in him, but it’s when Maverick is at his best. But what Top Gun: Maverick does with his affinity for spontaneity is what sells me on his arc. As he takes on the assignment of training the next generation of top fighter aviators, Pete uses his lack of inhibitions to demonstrate that thinking too hard can be the difference of life or death. It’s quite perplexing when you think about this coming from the Navy’s perspective — an aspect I’m sure has been bent and twisted by Hollywood. But it’s fascinating, nonetheless.

To demonstrate this exciting and fast-paced representation of impulsivity, director Joseph Kosinski doesn’t hold back in capturing the mayhem and potential danger. The third act, in particular, had me holding my breath in multiple sequences. There I sat — ready for explosions, death, and heartbreak. Kosinski not only delivered in capturing the thrilling aspects of aviation, but he was able to make me feel with the characters in the process. Pair that with the incredible chemistry of the cast [Cruise and Teller in particular] — who made me feel connected to them through their performances — and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a grand time at the movies.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved

One can certainly imagine [and become worried about] how a sequel like this would rely on the foundation built by its predecessor. They kind of had to, mostly to remind audiences of the fun and loss experienced by the titular character. But don’t let that sway you from seeing the film. The script perfectly balances the old with the new, only briefly showcasing scenes from Top Gun (1986) to emphasize the feelings haunting Maverick. Furthermore, there’s enough cheesiness to remind us why this franchise rules, but it never overstays its welcome. Screenwriters Kruger, Singer, and McQuarrie pull out all the stops to give us a heartwarming script with intense and emotional moments that are well earned.

If you’re like me, and Tom Cruise is one of those actors you immediately purchase a ticket for, get excited because Top Gun: Maverick will not disappoint. But if you need a compelling reason to jump back into this franchise, here’s one: the film simply rules! From the compelling script and the fast-paced action/aviation sequences to Kosinski’s direction and rock-star cast, you do not want to miss this one!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Check out the trailer for Top Gun: Maverick below — in theaters May 27th!

Paramount Pictures Studios trailer for Top Gun: Maverick

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