New Written Review from Mike Crowley on You’ll Probably Agree: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Coasts Above Nostalgia

Pushing himself to the limit at 59 years old, soon to be 60 in two months, Tom Cruise is a man who knows what he’s doing. With the help of the man keeping Cruise’s career alive, Steve McQuarrie, the dynamic duo create a superior film to the original, although that isn’t saying much. That isn’t meant to be hailed as an insult since Top Gun is supposed to be dumb fun. Biceps, beachballs, and bombs are enjoyable for an 80s flick, but how does Top Gun’s relevancy holdup in its 2022 sequel? Surprisingly well!

With the increased usage of drones, the need for a pilot is unnecessary. Why take a life when a robot can do the job instead? Peter (Maverick) Mitchell lives the same routine life he’s had since 1986. When he could have advanced on to becoming a two-star Admiral or Senator, Maverick chose to stay as Captain, shooting shown 40 enemy aircraft throughout his decorated aviation career.

The next line of Top Gun pilots includes the son of Maverick’s old dead friend Nick (Goose) Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards). Fearing his son will suffer the same fate his old man did in the first film, Maverick does whatever he can to not include Goose Jr. (Miles Teller), in the program. Little Goose is a classic legacy sequel trope. The son or daughter of an original character often plays a significant role in the sequel. Primarily this decision is made for prolonged sequels since the cast has aged off. But not Tom Cruise. 

Yes, Tom Cruise has his problems, but the man’s mind and talent are rare. Cruise could be a pilot or workout instructor in an alternate universe where acting didn’t pan out. Not anyone can get a pilot’s license, but Tom Cruise has one. His skills are s sight to see in the movie’s spectacular unassimilated cockpit angles. If there is digital trickery in those cockpit shots, then hats off to Director Joseph Kosinski for fooling me. If there were a director to trick me with his technical wizardry, Kosinski would be one of the few who could do it. 

Initially gaining his experience through Tron Legacy, Joseph Kosinski has proven to be a champion in the visual effects department. Except for the de-aged Jeff Bridges shots. They looked like junk then, and they look worse now. However, there’s no denying the world of Tron was gorgeously reimagined for the modern era. Kosinski met up with Tom Cruise to make Oblivion, and now we have a 35-year-old sequel to Top Gun. Was it worth the wait? Ask a fan of Top Gun. From a normy who saw the original for the first time mere days ago, Maverick has a little more meat on its bones for my taste. 

The plot of the original Top Gun is barely even a story. It’s a collection of macho banter, corny music, sunset shots, and Tom Cruise’s ego being stroked. The only conflict in the narrative is a failed training mission that kills Maverick’s buddy. Living with guilt, Maverick almost quits the Top Gun pilot program until he redeems himself by saving the day. The script could be written on a napkin. With Maverick, the script is upgraded to a single sheet of paper. 

Top Gun: Maverick is close to a carbon copy of the original with just enough caveats in its heart to make it Cruise slightly beyond my expectations. With the cast either being out of shape, dying, or dead, one actor returns for an appearance that I was concerned would feel tacked on. Not so, as a matter of fact, like the Dude’s carpet, it really ties the whole film together. It’s not hard to guess who it is if you know anything about Top Gun. According to rumor, Cruise was insistent on his inclusion in the film, which, having seen it, is integral to the plot and a hard-hitting reminder of how fast time moves forward. I wish the same level of respect were given to the one woman in the classic cast. 

Through the trailers or your standard IMDB search, you may notice that Kelly McGillis is missing. Replacing her is Jennifer Connolly, playing the new love interest Penny Benjamin. How Penny plays into the plotline is confusing, convoluted, and insulting to McGillis. Age hasn’t been kind to Kelly. For decades, Ms. McGillis has been out of show business, currently residing with her wife in North Carolina. The existence of McGillis’ character Charlie isn’t mentioned. If it was, I didn’t catch it. Like the original, removing the love story altogether would have benefited the narrative. 

Although soaring high above the skies, I kept my expectations for Maverick low. Fans of the original film will love the sequel. Although the movie is nostalgia fodder from its opening credits to another needless volleyball scene, there’s enough soul to give Top Gun: Maverick that little bit of emotion the original lacked. To correctly see the film, watch it in an adequately sound mixed theater, with sub-woofers that contain the power of a jet engine. 

Top Gun: Maverick lands in theaters on Friday, May 27

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