The Top Gun sequel delivers action and emotions driven by a whole lot of nostalgia.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris,
and Val Kilmer
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
years after Top Gun helped make Tom Cruise a bona fide film star, we return to the world of Maverick for a very belated revisit that serves as rare proof of the fact that a sequel can actually be better than the original!
Top Gun: Maverick exceeds the charms of the (middling, yet iconic) 1986 flick while lovingly paying homage to its uber-popular predecessor (with one glaring omission, but more on that later).
The sequel finds the protagonist – Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell – returning to the Top Gun program as an instructor. He has been tasked with training an elite group of younger aviators for a dangerous mission: to bomb a foreign country’s unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant that is located in a canyon and guarded by missiles.
Maverick not only needs to prepare the aviators for what seems like a near-impossible operation, but he also has to choose which two teams will ultimately undertake the mission. His job is made all the more difficult by the fact that one of the candidates, Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), is the son of his late best friend, Goose.
As the protagonist tries to assuage Rooster – who is miffed about the fact that Maverick blocked his application to the Naval Academy – while picking the right personnel for the raid, he must confront his past and take more than a few risks to ensure that the operation has a fighting chance of being successful. It’s all completely preposterous, of course, and you can predict the overall arc of the tale pretty much from the get-go, but the adventure is still a whole lot of fun. At the heart of the film is a very solid performance by its leading man. Also impressive are the action sequences, which have been shot with finesse.
The story nicely complements the original, bringing back a beloved character – Val Kilmer’s Iceman – while referencing others, and introducing new players – like Glen Powell’s cocky Hangman – who can potentially be part of the franchise’s future. Conspicuously absent though is Kelly McGillis’ Charlie, so central to the mechanics of the classic, yet nowhere to be found in the revival (supposedly because Hollywood frowns upon women who actually age like normal humans).
She has been replaced by Jennifer Connelly’s Penny as Maverick’s new love interest, while Charlie is never even mentioned in the new movie, which is a pity, because any homage to her would have been nice, not to mention very well-deserved. (A little nod to Berlin’s iconic song ‘Take My Breath Away’ wouldn’t have hurt either.)
Powered by a terrific Cruise performance and drenched in a whole lot of nostalgia, Top Gun: Maverick shows just how entertaining a sequel can be when done right. Whether you liked the original or not (and if you haven’t already seen it, then you definitely should watch the 1986 film before experiencing the new instalment), you are still likely to enjoy the return of Maverick and appreciate all that this thrilling, touching, cheesy summer blockbuster has to offer.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection