MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Top Gun: Maverick” stars Tom Cruise (Edge of Tomorrow, Rain Man), Miles Teller (Whiplash , Fantastic Four ), Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream), Bashir Salahuddin (South Side [TV series], Marriage Story ), Jon Hamm (Mad Men [TV series], Tag), Glen Powell (Hidden Figures, Everybody Wants Some!!), Charles Parnell (Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Warriors), Lewis Pullman (Bad Times at the El Royale, Outer Range [TV series]), Monica Barbaro (The Good Cop [TV series], Splitting Up Together [TV series]), Danny Ramirez (Assassination Nation, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier [TV series]), Jay Ellis (Insecure [TV series], Escape Room), Greg Tarzan Davis (The Call of the Wild, Grey’s Anatomy [TV series]), and Val Kilmer (The Doors, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). It is directed by Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Spiderhead), with the screenplay being written by Ehren Kruger (The Ring, Dumbo ), Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle, Only the Brave), and Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie).
Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) is forced to return to the program that made him who he is after more than thirty years since leaving; only this time, he will be teaching.
It’s been too long, Mr. Cruise.
For those of you who have ever clicked on my “degrees of Tom Cruise” page know that, while being his break-out feature, “Top Gun” was hardly a favorite of mine. The original was drenched in 80’s from head to toe, with fast planes, beautiful women, shirtless dudes playing volleyball, and Kenny Loggins’ unforgettable “Danger Zone” track. Audiences ate it up, but as for myself… I wasn’t as reeled in.
Fast-forward to 2019, where the sequel was officially announced. I thought they were insane. Out of all the movies to pull from in Cruise’s catalogue, they chose “Top Gun.” Oy vey. Why not make an original standalone? I was apprehensive of this decision from the start. Covid delayed the movie’s release multiple times, and soon enough it had become years since Cruise’s last theatrical picture (the most recent being “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” I believe). Needless to say, I ultimately didn’t care what was his next project; I just wanted to see this action hero on the screen.
“Top Gun: Maverick” is a diamond in the rough. No, it’s not the greatest film of all time – nor is it the best sequel to have been produced – but it ushers in an old school form of storytelling that offers levity in an obscure cinema landscape. The stakes are high-ish, character arcs predictable, and narrative often playing it safe. Yet, I had a blast. From cinematography to practical effects to lovable performances, “Maverick” gives us a glowing, heartwarming show that works on multiple levels. It’s the kind of flick that anyone can follow and be ensured some good, old fashioned fun. Namely, the aerial filming.
My goodness, talk about unreal cinematography. I was told that specific camera rigs were invented for this film, where we can now shoot real-life fighter jets racing in the skies. Cruise of course did his own stunts, utilizing his pilot’s license to man the planes he commandeered. Seeing the action of these training modules and later special mission was easily the best part of the entire picture. And with the knowledge of all that went into making this going in, it made it all the more a treat to feast on with the eyes.
Performances in this got the job done. Everyone was written well, and I actually enjoyed the fresh faces that graced the screen. Cruise was of course the glue that held everything together, but Miles Teller and Glen Powell were stand-outs. I especially liked what the filmmakers did with Powell’s character arc, as his was definitely the most well-rounded (and not all too cliche). Jennifer Connelly filled the shoes of Cruise’s love interest. Her part wasn’t much of anything, but her addition wasn’t hurtful to the story. And Val Kilmer had a spot in this, which – if you know the backstory of that actor and what he has gone through in the last decade – was a nice moment to see. There’s clearly payoffs given with this sequel that not only work within the film, but outside of it as well.
“Top Gun: Maverick” easily blows the original out of the water. To me, that isn’t hard to do so, but it’s safe to say that even as a film, “Maverick” stands tall. Seeing this in the theater with my family, I was able to turn off my filmmaker/screenwriter mind and simply enjoy it for what it is worth. Cruise and his team did a bang-up job accomplishing a feat in filmmaking, and the movie as a whole makes for a wonderful, harmless watch. Easily a summer favorite. FINAL SCORE: 88%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: