New from Kevin Wozniak on Kevflix: Movie Review: Top Gun: Maverick

 

 

Top Gun: Maverick is one of those rare sequels that surpasses its predecessor in every way imaginable. That isn’t a slight on Tony Scott’s 1986 high-flying bro-down that has since become a seminal piece of 80s cinema, it’s just that everything in Top Gun: Maverick is taken to new levels. The action is more dynamic and intense, the performances are better, the filmmaking is tighter, the themes are stronger, and the emotions are deeper. It is not only better than the original Top Gun but better than most of the movies I have seen in 2022.

Decades have passed since we last saw Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Tom Cruise), though not much has changed. Only a Captain in the Navy, Maverick is still a daring pilot pushing the boundaries of what a fighter jet can do. After an unauthorized mission that saw Maverick make a fighter jet to high-hypersonic speed, Maverick is scolded by Rear Admiral Chester ‘Hammer’ Caine (Ed Harris), who, instead of grounding Maverick, informs him that he is being sent back to a Naval station in San Diego to be briefed on a new mission.

When Maverick arrives in San Diego, he is informed that the Navy doesn’t want him to fly the mission, but teach the new group of Top Gun recruits how to fly in this mission, with one of the recruits being Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of Maverick’s former wingman, Goose, who died while they were in the Top Gun academy. The new recruits are the best of the best when it comes to Navy pilots and they know it. But Maverick shows them that they may not be prepared for this mission and must teach them everything he knows in order for this mission to succeed while also dealing with the guilt of losing Goose and ensuring his son doesn’t follow the same path.

Tom Cruise as Pete 'Maverick' Miller, Glen Powell as Jake 'Hangman' Seresin, Miles Teller as Bradley 'Rooster' Bradshaw, and Monica Barbaro as Natasha 'Phoenix' Trace in Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise as Pete ‘Maverick’ Miller, Glen Powell as Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin, Miles Teller as Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw, and Monica Barbaro as Natasha ‘Phoenix’ Trace in Top Gun: Maverick

The original Top Gun solidified Tom Cruise as a movie star and despite some ups and downs in his career, Cruise has maintained his status as one of the biggest movie stars in the world. But throughout the 2010s, particularly with the Mission: Impossible movies, Cruise has shown that there is no other movie star or an actor like him. Besides doing his own insane stunts, like climbing the tallest building in the world or hanging off the side of an airplane, Tom Cruise is a major voice on every movie. Despite being part of a franchise, the Mission: Impossible movies are Tom Cruise movies. He is one of the major authors of the film and one of the major reasons why the films he makes are made the way that they are. 

Top Gun: Maverick is Cruise’s magnum opus. A film that will define Cruise’s legacy as a movie star. In order to get the accuracy exactly right for Maverick, Cruise put his costars through rigorous training in order for them to perfect flying the jets. He and director Joesph Kosinski worked with the Navy on camera placements on the jets in order to give us the most immersive experience possible. The result is exhilarating. You feel like you are in the jet with Maverick and the other pilots. The seats in the theater vibrate as you twist and turn with the jets and go on a wild, heart-racing ride.

Beyond the theatrics and amazing action sequences, Top Gun: Maverick has a lot of heart and emotion. It looks at Maverick’s career in the Navy and his legacy while continuing to deal with the loss of his best friend Goose and trying to reconcile with his son. I have seen Top Gun: Maverick twice as of this review and the film improved for me the second time around because I was able to focus more on the story and emotion and less on the theatrics. Cruise gives his best performance in years, flexing his movie star muscle, but also showing that he still has it on a dramatic level. Teller is excellent as Rooster, showing us a kid with a chip on his shoulder while struggling to forgive Maverick. Cruise and Teller have great chemistry together and their story is what drives the film home.

Top Gun: Maverick is a movie that finds Cruise reckoning with his entire career. Maverick is the last of a dying breed. An aging fighter pilot in a time when technology is overtaking the military. You could say that Cruise is the last of his breed, too. Nobody makes movies like Tom Cruise and nobody is willing to do what Cruise does in order to give the audience the best cinematic experience possible. Does the military need a Maverick? Does Hollywood need a Tom Cruise? As Read Admiral Caine tells Maverick, “The end is inevitable, Maverick. Your kind is headed for extinction.” Maverick replies, “That may be, sir. But not today.” Top Gun: Maverick proves that, despite being different from how the world is from when he started, the Navy needs Maverick and that despite how different Hollywood and filmmaking are from when he first started, we still need Tom Cruise.

 

 

 

 

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