The original Top Gun film from 1986 might not be one of my top all-time favorite films, but I do love and respect it thanks to it being one of those 80s classics I grew up with. I would’ve never imagined three decades and some change later that we’d get a sequel to it, and here we are with Top Gun: Maverick. Not only does it surpass Tony Scott’s original film, but builds on it perfectly to give viewers a blockbuster that’s destined to be a new classic.
Things kick off with our hero Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) doing his best to keep his head in the clouds and soar the skies despite being constantly reprimanded by the military brass for breaking all kinds of rules, regulations, and boundaries during his flights. His current job is being a test pilot for experimental military aircraft, and after pushing the limits of a superjet where he goes beyond Mach 10, he’s sent to his old stomping grounds at the Top Gun academy to train a new generation of fighter pilots.
Maverick is reluctant to teach as he’d rather be flying, and because among the new recruits is the son of his late best friend and wingman, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, named Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller). Turns out Bradley isn’t too keen on seeing Maverick as well since he blames him for Goose’s death in the original film, and for setting back his flight career with some shady behind-the-scenes shenanigans regarding his paperwork.
As Maverick attempts to teach these young pilots to push beyond their limits, we also learn they’re being trained for a highly dangerous and risky mission to destroy a hidden nuclear supply facility that’s heavily guarded by some unspecified enemies (as the film didn’t want to offend any countries out there, but chances are viewers will figure it out).
So it’s up to all of them to push aside any differences they have with each other and get it together, least the mission fail and/or they get killed during it. This is where we’re treated to some of the best fighter pilot cinematography ever filmed as Tom Cruise (and much of the new fighters) is flying different fighter jets with the camera stuck right by the cockpit so you always feel as though you’re soaring the skies with him and the other pilots.
Director Joseph Kosinski (Tron Legacy, Oblivion) has crafted one of the most thrilling, visually spectacular films I’ve ever seen – and you’ll feel the need for speed like never before. This isn’t hyperbole as you can can tell much love was placed on getting these aspects down perfectly as all the stunts and aerial choreography are simply amazing and will have you on the edge of your seat and then some. There are times where you can see just how intense the gravity pull is on Tom Cruise that will leave you just as tired and breathless as he gets as he pulls off one amazing aerial feat after another.
There’s also some other well placed characters in the background of the film, such as Jon Hamm playing Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson who doesn’t care for Maverick and his antics, and Jennifer Connelly playing an old flame named Penny Benjamin who loves Maverick but hates playing second fiddle to him constantly leaving her for his risk-taking flying. I also got a kick out of some of the young pilots who are brash and cocky yet somehow likable, grow on you, and give a few laughs as the movie progresses.
There’s even a sweet cameo by Val Kilmer as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky who is now a four-star Admiral and has a touching reunion with Maverick. I have to mention the soundtrack for the film is awesome as well thanks to them reusing and touching up the iconic synth Top Gun theme, Kenny Loggins classic “Danger Zone” song, and the new song by Lady Gaga at the end fits nicely with the film’s theme and score.
Top Gun: Maverick is truly a major blockbuster event of 2022 and destined to go down in history as one of the biggest and best films of the year, and possibly all-time. Do yourself a favor and see this on the biggest screen possible with family and friends as this upgraded Top Gun soars past the original in every way, yet couldn’t exist without it and acknowledges this constantly throughout the movie perfectly.