Now this is a movie! With so much entertainment proving disappointing of late, I needed this… I needed this badly. Read on for my review of Top Gun: Maverick.
Top Gun: Maverick features the continued adventures of Pete Mitchell: a navy pilot who plays by his own rules. He’s still a Captain after near 40 years of service, and he continually infuriates his superiors. Maverick is soon ordered back to Top Gun so he might train the next generation of pilots to undertake a suicide mission. Flying is Maverick’s life-time passion. But his past traumas, and an ever-dwindling support system might ground him for good.
My investment in Top Gun was almost non-existent before this week… and now I love this franchise! I watched the original as a kid, then again last week (I’ll review it in a few days time). ‘Twas a good film but not one which stuck with me. Yet my expectations for Top Gun: Maverick were sky high! Tom Cruise rarely fails to deliver quality entertainment– the last decade more than ever. And my faith in him (plus the rest of the crew) was well-placed!
I expected a charming and daring Tom Cruise, intense fighter-jet combat, and shirtless sports on a beach. I received all that and then-some! So I confidently declare Top Gun: Maverick a better movie than its predecessor! I know, I know. A legacy sequel that’s not only good but better than the original? What witchcraft was required to make this movie?
The quality all begins with the script. It would have been easy to shoe-horn some cameos into this thing, give Tom Cruise a half-assed story, and force new characters nobody really wanted to see. But Top Gun: Maverick walks a fine line between respecting its source material and pushing the story forward.
Maverick in particular strikes a perfect balance between new and old. He’s not this revered, untouchable legend who can do no wrong, nor is he a washed-up loser who’s put down to make way for up-and-comers. Maverick is just a flawed man who spent his life doing what he wanted, but had to live with the consequences of his decisions. He’s still an exceptional pilot, but he’s burned a lot of bridges over his career, and the military doesn’t want him (or really manned fighter-pilots) anymore. So Maverick must fight, both to keep living his dream, and to make sure the next generation of pilots can live theirs.
The character’s path feels both earned and inevitable, based on his personality in the original. The only reason Maverick wasn’t discharged from service decades ago is because he had one good friend who helped him whenever he got in trouble (so a lot). He and this friend shared one of the movie’s best scenes!
Cruise is effortlessly charming. But that’s a given. He demonstrates his range by nailing both dramatic and comedic moments (the later of which, there were more of than I expected– and most of them landed). Seems to me he largely had fun making this film, and that always shows in an actor’s performance.
Miles Teller plays TG:M‘s main supporting character: a pilot, code-named Rooster. He and Maverick have a messy history, which made Rooster bitter with good reason. Their relationship was tense throughout the film, yet compelling. Maverick and Rooster’s story was the heart of this movie! I didn’t expect to get so emotionally invested in their plot-line. Every bit of that story felt more earned than it would have felt in lesser hands.
Oh yeah: I also liked how Rooster’s piloting style paralleled Maverick’s. Rooster’s too cautious, whilst Maverick is infamously dangerous. But Rooster would be overly cautious, considering his history…
My only criticism of TG:M is how two-dimensional its other characters were compared to Maverick and Rooster. But even then I didn’t care, ’cause I liked everybody. The performers inhabited their roles so well, I understood their characters without much concrete information (especially Jennifer Connelly, Glen Powell, and Monica Barbaro). It’s a classic case of “show-don’t-tell”. I’m just impressed I could even remember the supporting characters’ names, which is rare for me.
Top Gun: Maverick’s plot is well-paced. The film runs over 2.25 hours, yet I didn’t feel the length once. My attention was locked in place the whole time.
How about the action? My goodness, the action… It is, without a doubt, some of the most impressive I’ve ever seen! My mind was blown, seeing the flights from inside and outside the cockpit– knowing the majority of it is for real.
And it’s a testament to how much more engrossing practical stunt-work and effects are than green-screened spectacle. Somewhere in your gut, you know the dangers are more real in Top Gun. Performers actually put their lives on the line for your entertainment. We need not suspend our disbelief, or have our minds brought back to reality when we notice the SFX defects. And this makes the flights more tense to watch.
I also must shout-out the brilliant cinematography work by Claudio Miranda. ‘Cause what would all these amazing stunts amount to if the film looked terrible, right? Though, to be clear, Top Gun: Maverick looked great at all times– even during the dialogue scenes.
All this added up to the most exhilarating ending to a film I’ve seen in… well, a while. I had a tough time predicting exactly how the third-act set-piece would go down. But it was exceptional! I walked out of the theatre ecstatic– probably with a big smile on my face. Wouldn’t you know it? Top Gun: Maverick used a little thing called “pay-off” to great effect. More movies should try that.
Top Gun: Maverick is (as of today) my favourite movie of 2022! It’s experiences like this which make me realize how bad most other films are… I was fully immersed, wowed by the technical craft, and appreciated the genuine and well-told story. What more could I have asked for with this thing?
Top Gun: Maverick is a film you NEED to Watch A.S.A.P
Should the Top Gun franchise get a third entry? What did you think of Top Gun: Maverick? Please share your thoughts in the comments (no spoilers please). If you have any ideas for future articles, or any questions, let me know. Also be sure to Like this article on Facebook and share if you enjoyed!
Till next time,
FOR MY SPOILER THOUGHTS ON TOP GUN: MAVERICK, CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE OF CLOSE UP WITH RYAN AND JOE!