Review of 'Top Gun: Maverick'

top_gun_maverick.jpg From the beginning I have to admit that (gasp) I am not a huge fan of the original iconic 1998 “Top Gun” film which I felt was a bit of a macho-man US Navy recruitment film. Sure, there are some redeeming aspects to the film such as the powerful performance from Tom Cruise as Top Gun pilot Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell but it just was a bit too, I don't know, slick. So, with a bit of trepidation we went to see “Top Gun: Maverick” the other day in the cinema which, to be honest, has to be the best way to see this amazing looking film. So, what did I think? I have to think Maverick is even better than the original with a mature storyline and amazing performances from the cast, particularly, Tom Cruise who returns as an older and all grown up Pete Mitchell.

We find Pete Mitchell still a captain having resisted, or avoided, promotion and testing experimental aircraft. He still rebels against authority, pushing the barrier whenever he can. This results in a bit of a disaster which narrowly avoids his discharge but instead is assigned by his old friend Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), now an ailing admiral, to teach a group of Top Gun pilots assigned to destroy a unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant. Initially reluctant to teach it is made clear this is his only option if he wishes to remain in the Navy. He has only a short time to teach the group of young and ambitious pilots the near impossible manoeuvres that will be required in order for them to not only accomplish their mission but make it out alive. The young pilots initially doubt whether the older Maverick will teach them anything but he quickly demonstrates his amazing flying talents. Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick's late best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (played in the original film by Anthony Edwards) whose death Maverick still feels guilty about, intervening in Rooster's career by having him held back from the Top Gun program years before. With this tension and hostility from Lieutenant Jake “Hangman” Seresin (Glen Powell), so named because he has a reputation when wing-man of leaving his other pilots “hanging”, Maverick has his work cut out for him though he still manages to strike up a relationship with former girlfriend Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) working at the local bar…Hang on to your seats, it is going to be a bumpy ride.

There were a number of things that struck me about this film, for example, how realistic the flying sequences were showing the obvious effects of the acrobatics on the pilots. The actors really were in the planes during the manoeuvres but not actually flying…they were not allowed to! This attention to detail really made the story feel so much more real and realistic. Sure, there are a few “macho man” elements (noting there are woman pilots here) but these can be forgiven for the focusing of the story on real human emotions: The desire for a deep relationship, the regret for past mistakes, and the struggle to prove yourself both as a young adult and an older adult. The characters here are flawed though with obvious talent which really helps draw us in.

On the accusation of the original film being a recruitment film: Though the US Navy were involved in this film this definitely does NOT feel like an ad for the US military. Indeed, at many points it is very much not with the Navy here pictured as a strict organization that struggles to contain it's own pilots.

The flying looks great and is, thankfully, filmed in such a way that it is easy to follow and appreciate. I have to say that seeing it on a big screen really allows you to appreciate the effort that has gone into these sequences. The finale, as you might expect, is suitably spectacular with a few surprises (it can't be straightforward, can it?).

Cruise is amazing as Maverick showing why he has been so successful as an actor bringing a maturity to his performance that manages to capture both his (character's) youthful rebellious streak but at the same time his deep-felt grief over the death of Goose so many years ago and his commitment to protect Goose's son – whether he likes it or not. There are some stereotypes in the young pilots but they are all played quite fairly by the cast – Young, cocky and inexperienced in life. It was also great to see some of the old cast including Val Kilmer as the aging Admiral who has long protected his friend Maverick. I also have to say that, refreshingly, there are some strong female characters here that are more than a match for the males.

So, much to my surprise, I really liked this film. I feel it is so much more mature than the original film as well as, technically, a much better looking film. See it on a big screen.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2022-07-02

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Year: 2022

Length: 130 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Joseph Kosinski: