Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Genre: Action and Drama Running Time: 2 hrs. 11 min.

Release Date: May 27th, 2022 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Joseph Kosinski Actors: Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Monica Barbaro, Lewis Pullman, Glen Powell, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer

 


 

S

econds before Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell’s (Tom Cruise) Mach 9 Darkstar jet test begins, Admiral Chester Cain (Ed Harris) arrives at the Mojave Desert naval base to shut the project down. Determined to prove his team’s competency, Mitchell defies orders and manages to push the plane past Mach 10 before it explodes, grounding him both figuratively and literally. When an old friend from his past, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) transfers Mitchell back to “Top Gun,” an elite strike fighter instructor program, the tenacious aviator finds himself back in the air, once again tasked with training a group of the Navy’s best pilots. With less than three weeks to prepare for the nearly impracticable mission of destroying an enemy uranium enrichment plant, nestled deep within a heavily-fortified mountain range, Mitchell must select six recruits – amongst such candidates as Jake “Hangman” Seresin (Glen Powell), Natasha “Phoenix” Trace (Monica Barbaro), Reuben “Payback” Fitch (Jay Ellis), Mickey “Fanboy” Garcia (Danny Ramirez), Javy “Coyote” Machado (Greg Tarzan Davis), Robert “Bob” Floyd (Lewis Pullman), and Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s former wingman Goose – to carry out the unthinkable assignment.

The film opens with the exact same text as before to explain what the term Top Gun refers to, as well as the same theme music (which is still just as stirring), the same Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone” song, and what is essentially the same montage of jets being prepped aboard an aircraft carrier. Without closer inspection, the entire opening scene might be mistaken for a cut-and-paste from the original ‘80s cult classic. Of course, once Tom Cruise steps into frame, it’s obvious that he’s aged (though he’s no less of a daredevil) – except that he’s not as elderly as he probably ought to appear. “He’s the fastest man alive.”

“Seems like we’re not the only ones holding onto old relics.” Additional similarities abound, from the Pentagon bureaucracy to the comical disregard for authority figures to Goose’s death plaguing Mitchell’s military career (featured in flashbacks). And to replace the previous squad is a new slew of Top Gun hotshots, overflowing with camaraderie, rivalry, revelry, and jokey insults (and sinewy torsos, unafraid of big-screen exposure; this is a conspicuously clean-cut, good-looking collection of Navy pilots, as if supermodel attributes are a prerequisite) as they compete to lead the impossible mission. And at the forefront is Goose’s kid, signified by a mustache, suggesting that that is all it takes to resemble Anthony Edwards’ persona.

Serving the role of a remake just as much as a sequel (with nostalgic immoderation; it undoubtedly knows what its fans will embrace, and its successes in this regard outshine its accomplishments as art or entertainment), there’s also a love story, though it’s not nearly as prominent, complicated, or consequential. Plus, a few tender moments (and excessively sentimental ones) crop up, nodding at the major components of Tony Scott’s unexpectedly celebrated 1986 film. If nothing else, this is a remarkably faithful follow-up, sure to delight those who grew up with these characters and their need for speed.

Fortunately, when this picture dwells on training sequences and dogfighting drills (as its predecessor did), it’s immeasurably more galvanizing; the cockpit perspectives and aerial photography are downright mesmerizing. The against-all-odds mission, targeting unnamed adversaries in unnamed regions, may be a somewhat commonplace undertaking for an action-based blockbuster (at least allowing the lengthy amount of instruction to be specific and purposeful), but the imagery here is absolutely exhilarating. Never before has footage like this looked so convincing, placing the actors in hair-raising, white-knuckle combat maneuvers at high altitudes and higher velocities; the aerial shots are simply stunning – and deserve to be seen on theater screens (IMAX if possible). Additionally, the build to the climax is expertly handled (not since “Zero Dark Thirty” has a finale been so mind-numbingly pulse-pounding), orchestrating a nail-biting series of jet-flying stunts that will surely remain un-top-able for years to come. The original film didn’t exactly set a high bar when it came to storytelling or dogfighting, but “Top Gun: Maverick” definitively – and rip-roaringly – bests its predecessor in the spectacle department.

– The Massie Twins

  • 8/10