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Top Gun: Maverick review – a nostalgic, action-packed, action-packed machine

May 25, 2022

This Top Gun: Maverick movie review contains no spoilers.

We currently live in a time perceived to have more bad guys than men or women we want to defend. It was no different in the ’80s, an era reflected in movies with great villains, great action, and the intended consequences of creating victors that produced megastars. Well, here we are. In a world desperate for heroes, Hollywood has returned to the one man who can deliver – Tom Cruise! Rise and applaud, ladies and gentlemen. Top Gun Maverick is a nostalgic, action-packed, action-packed machine that delivers the supersonic thrills we all crave.

Tom Cruise is reprising the role of Maverick, who is a captain in the United States Navy. He should be Admiral now, which Radm. Chest “Hammer” Cain, who is about to dishonorably fire him, points out. However, Mav now has a reprieve from her friend, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer). How? He is currently Admiral. Kazansky assigns Maverick to train Top Gun graduates, the Navy’s top airmen, for a mission impossible (sound familiar?). He must prepare and choose six pilots to help bomb a site producing nuclear weapons. (The country remains ambiguous, but according to reports like Screenrant, the speculation is Iran because of the F-14s flying in the film).

One of the pilots he trained was Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of his best friend Goose. If you remember, he was one of the great supporting characters in action movies. He was killed off in the original when Maverick continued to push the limits of his training and the aircraft. It still haunts Maverick, triggered when Rooster plays the same song his father did on the piano when they were singing as a family. (Unfortunately, there won’t be a cameo from Meg Ryan or Anthony Edwards in the film, though the latter would be difficult). Pete has a new love interest in the movie, Peggy (Jennifer Connelly), an old flame he left three years ago. While battling his demons, Maverick must convince his new boss, Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson (Jon Hamm), and his star recruits.

Director Joseph Kosinski (Only the brave) and a script from a team that includes Ehren Kruger, Kosinski collaborator Eric Warren Singer, and Impossible mission Cruise crew member Christopher McQuarrie does a great job here. What the film does well is establish respect for the original. They revisit the film and fit into Maverick’s backstory. You have a wonderful mix of action and humor and the production quality of the film. Without being taken from a comic book movie, this old-school blockbuster is an upgrade for a new generation with spectacular action with today’s special effects. Whatever you think of the plot seems like wacky nonsense when most bombs can now be sent via satellite. Everything feels real, tangible and raises the stakes to new suspenseful heights.

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My big concern with this sequel was whether it would just be a carbon copy of the original. There are a few of these scenes, but when he returns to the well, Kosinski and company camouflage them so they’re barely noticeable. They also make sure it works well in the story. For example, when Maverick is kicked out of the bar by his new students, they have no idea he is their instructor. This plays on the original “You have lost that feeling of love”, scene with Kelli McGillis. Dogfight football is basically the famous volleyball tournament, but now teaches teamwork. As the romantic piano scene with Miles Teller hits home, it evokes the memory of the beloved character. Even Jake “Hangman” Seresin is your quintessential Ice Man character, but Glenn Powell is such a welcome presence that he’s hardly objectionable.

Performance is good here. Cruise is having a lot of fun revisiting a role that made him a decades-long global megastar. I’ve come to appreciate Teller’s Rooster more and more over time. By comparison, Connelly is still a great addition to any film. (Even though she rang the bell repeatedly for different reasons, and customers deciphering it had different meanings, it was head-scratching). And with all the bravado, arrogance and high-stakes drama, the scene with Val Kilmer is poignant. The actor has been experiencing significant health issues for the past two years. The scene with Cruise is a moment that will put a lump in your throat.

Top Gun: Maverick hits all the right notes in a big summer action spectacle that has become an American cinematic tradition. It is complete entertainment. One of the best action movies of years that has just the right amount of sentimentality to go along with its Hollywood trappings.

What did you think of the movie Top Gun: Maverick? Comments below!

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