Review: Top Gun: Maverick

When Top Gun soared onto screens back in 1986, fans fell in love with characters like Goose, Iceman, Viper, and Maverick. The soundtrack was insanely popular and even went platinum multiple times (#1 on Billbaord for five straight weeks). “Take My Breath Away” and “Danger Zone” were cemented as classic songs.

36 years later, Tom Cruise is back as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick.

After decades of service, Maverick (Tom Cruise) is still a Captain and flying as a test pilot. One day, Maverick is summoned by Vice Admiral Simpson (Jon Hamm) and tasked with training the top aviators from Top Gun for a special mission. The mission is as difficult as it is dangerous. To compete the mission, it will take skills only Maverick can teach.

The group of young pilots includes Rooster (Miles Teller), Phoenix (Monica Barbaro), Hangman (Glen Powell), Payback (Jay Ellis), Fanboy (Danny Ramirez), and Coyote (Greg Trazan Davis).

As great as 1986’s Top Gun is, Top Gun: Maverick improves on what was already a fantastic story. After nearly four decades, the story should feel stale and out of date. However, Tom Cruise  & Co. made a successor to the first film that not only works as a sequel but is as engaging and enthralling as anything we’ve seen on a big screen in years. There are moments that are breathtaking, exhilarating, and emotional. It’s everything you’d want from a blockbuster action/drama/comedy.

Tom Cruise is one of the biggest names in Hollywood and he’s not just a star…he is the biggest action star. If you didn’t know that, there’s no denying it by the time the credits roll.  Cruise doing his own stunts has been the talk for decades. One movie he’s dangling off a building in Dubai, the next he’s shattering his ankle during a stunt (that was kept in the film). Cruise’s work in Top Gun: Maverick is incredible or insane…or both. There are a ton of great action shots but one particular shot stood out – Maverick is in the cockpit of a fighter jet doing everything as he gets ready for takeoff. As you’re waiting for the camera to cut to a wide shot of the jet taking off…the camera never cuts. Instead, we’re treated to a shot of Tom Cruise leaving an aircraft carrier at full speed. The howl of the jet takeoff followed by the boom is a incredible shot to catch on film. That whole sequence is jaw-dropping.

There are moments that will tug at your heart strings. There are moments that will make you care about characters you haven’t seen in over 30 years. There’s a sentimental reunion that’s emotionally moving in a way that audience may not expect. For a popcorn summer blockbuster, this film packs a heavy emotional punch.

For fans that don’t care to be emotionally moved, the third act has all the dogfights and fighter jet action scenes you need. The young Top Guns are awesome in the third act and really leave their stamp on this film. What’s most enjoyable is there are no ruthless villains or cartoonish bad guys. The movie is about the pilots vs the mission vs themselves.

Top Gun: Maverick has no business being as good as it is. It’s the cinematic treat filmgoers have been waiting for. It’s enough action, laughs, and tears to last me through the summer. Well done Tom Cruise.

Grade: A+