Thursday, May 26, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick - Review


A sequel thirty-six years in the making, Top Gun: Maverick accomplishes a feat that very few sequels, let alone entries this far removed from the original, can hope to accomplish: it’s way better than its predecessor. From its updated effects, bonkers stunt work, and all around more dramatic storytelling, Top Gun: Maverick is more accomplished than most modern action films, and the scale on which it plays serves to prove why nothing beats seeing films on the biggest screen possible. 

Nearly forty years removed from an encounter with the enemy unlike anyone had seen in some time, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell has resigned himself to the Mojave Desert to test planes for the military. When thing inevitably go awry, Maverick is sent back to Fighter Weapons School, a.k.a. Top Gun, to prepare the newest batch of young pilots for a crucial, nearly impossible mission. 

For many legacy sequels, the lean on nostalgia is clear from the jump, but Top Gun: Maverick is far from nostalgia just for nostalgia’s sake. The film has a clear purpose for bringing back the hotshot pilot of Maverick, and it’s immediately clear that the character has felt the years since we last saw him. Cruise is his ever charming self, and his role as man just hanging on to his past is great direction for this character.

The supporting cast fills in nicely, with Miles Teller standing ever so slightly above the rest. This is partially due to him being given the most to do. As the son of Anthony Edward’s character Goose, Teller plays the role of Rooster, one of pilots at Top Gun eager to prove himself on this mission and in direct conflict with Cruise’s Maverick. The story leans heavily on this conflict between Maverick and Rooster, and most of it works, anchoring the film firmly in the previous entry while paving a new path with this one. 

All that being said, the story isn’t setting any new trends, and mostly uses the original film as a blueprint, but the drama is effective and the action that’s weaved throughout is thrilling. For those not in the know, Cruise, wild man that he is, knows how to fly these planes already, but just to one up himself, he managed to convince the other actors to learn to fly as well. That means just about all of the footage from the cockpit of the F-18’s is real, filmed and performed by the on-screen actors we’ve seen throughout the other parts of the film. And it’s absolutely exhilarating. 

Continually Tom Cruise proves that he truly loves making movies, even if he puts himself in constant danger to do so. Top Gun: Maverick is just another example of this, providing emotions, drama, and thrilling action to satisfy the summer masses. As far as blockbusters go for 2022, it’s hard to imagine many approaching the constant state of dazzle and joy that this one elicits, bringing an aerial extravaganza to the big screen just in time for summer. 

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