Would the sequel for Top Gun take my breath away with its need for speed in the danger zone? Not a question I was asking when I went into the movie but I just wanted to get all my Top Gun cliches out of the way, so let’s get on with the review 😉
Coming 36 years (Avatar 2 eat your heart out) after the first Top Gun, Top Gun: Maverick was a sequel that no one was really asking for. I mean the first movie was fun to watch but in my mind, it was also very much a product of the 80’s when posturing male action stars oozed machismo on the big screen on a regular basis. It felt like a one and done that didn’t need any sort of continuation.
That said, Tom Cruise has been on a bit of a roll lately with his Mission: Impossible franchise and I was intrigued to see what he and his team could come up with for Top Gun: Maverick. I went in with no expectations but was hoping to have a good time.
And this movie pretty much blew my socks off.
Now to be clear, there is nothing in Top Gun: Maverick that is new or groundbreaking. It has a predictable storyline, numerous callbacks to its predecessor and a lot of that aforementioned machismo, but, by golly, they managed to make it work. By taking the best bits of the original and mixing them with a modern twist, the filmmakers have managed to make a feel-good film with the right mix of emotional beats and rah-rah moments that will have you teary-eyed one minute and then fighting the urge to fist-pump in the air the next.
Beginning right at the opening scene (which is a close homage to the start of the first Top Gun), when I heard the soft notes of the Top Gun Theme, I started feeling goosebumps. It was probably nostalgia but just hearing the music filled me with an upbeat feeling and got me ready to soar the skies again, and a feeling didn’t leave me until the credits rolled.
From start to finish, director Joseph Kosinski has managed to pace the film so you are always entertained. Be it the breathtaking aerial antics (most of which were done in real aircraft), or the development of the arcs of the various characters in the film, you just want the film to keep going. And when we got to the third act, Kosinski just ratchets up the tension, almost to a level where you can’t take it any more (but in a good way).
And while the main attraction of the film will be the crazy aviation skills on display, the foundation that makes the story work is Tom Cruise and his ensemble of supporting characters. With the main story arc being basically the setup for a heist film, the new generation of pilots, Rooster (Miles Teller), Hangman (Glen Powell), Coyote (Greg Tarzan Davis), Fanboy (Danny Ramirez), Phoenix (Monica Barbaro) and Bob (Lewis Pullman), all bond well together and the relationships they form seem perfectly natural, whether it be camaraderie or of a more antagonistic nature, making you care about each and everyone one of this new schools of sky-jockeys.
While I was expecting the action sequences and the obligatory shirtless sports scene, I was a little surprised at how much humour there was in this movie, sometimes at Cruise’s own expense. I find Cruise most relatable when his character is self-effacing (e.g. in Edge of Tomorrow), so I’m glad that there were moments where Tom allowed Maverick to be the butt of the joke.
Yes, there are numerous homages to Top Gun and yes, you can see the beats of the plot coming from a mile away but it is still a bloody good time. I haven’t had this much fun in the cinema in a long time and I was buzzing by the time the credits rolled.
I’m sure there are lots of people out there who think Top Gun isn’t their thing and won’t go to watch it, but I would totally recommend that you check this out. This is solid entertainment through and through.
I give Top Gun: Maverick a 9 out of 10 and I can’t wait to check this out again in IMAX. (And there’s no end credit scene.