When it comes to sequels of popular films, there is a fine line between success and possible failure. Some have done it well by remembering what the characters built in the original, but others have crashed and burned upon impact due to a quick money grab. Fear not though, as Top Gun: Maverick is one of the best sequels to be released in recent memory.
In Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a naval fighter pilot destined to remain a Captain while most of his peers have moved on to higher ranks. Pleased with his reckless and cocky ways, Maverick becomes the instructor to a new generation of naval fighter pilots at the direction of old friend, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer). It’s in this new and unexpected role that Maverick excels beyond every expectation.
Without the need for much of a plot, Top Gun: Maverick leans heavily on nostalgia, music, and Top Gun-esque tropes to last the more than two hours of runtime. Replacing Kelly McGillis with Jennifer Connelly could have been viewed as controversial, but Connelly becomes a likable love interest to further the storyline of Maverick’s personal life. It’s actually quite fun to see Tom Cruise back as a romantic lead, something he’s put off for more action flicks like the Mission Impossible franchise as of late.
The reason for Top Gun: Maverick’s success is very simple: presenting the world with a new crop of recruits is a tall order, but casting Miles Teller and Glen Powell makes the story plausible. While the return of Tom Cruise is a welcome one, the focus of the film falls squarely on Miles Teller and the rest of the newbies. As “Rooster,” the son of the late great Goose from the 1986 original, Teller plays the role with a steady sense of resentment, determination, and skill. Powell as “Hangman” embodies the spirit that the 1986 Maverick himself parlayed, with charisma, arrogance, and resolve to boot.
The great achievements of this film occur towards the climax, where Maverick and team need to accomplish a mission against an unsuspecting enemy. The final scenes are truly nail biting, with intense flight sequences that result in Cruise’s cast members going from nearly unknown performers, to A-list stars in a matter of minutes. But what makes the film shine in the end is the fact that director Joseph Kosinski made the bold choice to never show the enemy’s face, never disclosing what country the enemy resides, and never faltering on the attempt to balance social and political intrigue. This makes for a very impressive and exciting ending.
Top Gun: Maverick takes flight in the smallest of details, none of which exclude the star power of this incredible vehicle.
Ticket rating: 🎟🎟🎟🎟1/2