In 1986, the world was introduced to Top Gun and Tom Cruise as an action star. The late director Tony Scott created solid gold with the fast, high-flying spectacle on-screen that combined romance, drama, and action that still entertains audiences today. Some 36-years later, Tom Cruise and co. are back for another mission in Top Gun: Maverick that outshines the original film in every way possible. With its Mission: Impossible-inspired stunts and a fantastic story that brings everything full circle, this sequel is the perfect addition to a beloved movie from the '80s. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
On a personal note here, the original Top Gun still feels like an overrated movie with its high-end cheese-filled dialogue and decent enough action sequences. Not to mention, the uncanny amount of '80s action homoeroticism that has been talked about and joked about for the last three decades. All of those elements have vanished. This makes room for a big-blockbuster action film with heart and soul that if one were to remember a film from 1977 - they would see a ton of elements in this new Top Gun sequel that resemble that iconic movie that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Bringing back the original characters along with some new blood has made Top Gun: Maverick an entertaining watch that projects this story and franchise into the future while paying homage to the past in a great way.
With someone as big as Tom Cruise (in star power), it's always great to pair him with people who know his style and work ethic, which is what was done with this sequel. Cruise teams up with director Joseph Kosinski again (Oblivion), along with co-writer and producer Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher and the last few Mission: Impossible movies). This triple threat has made for the best possible outcome for the Top Gun franchise that mixes its action, melodrama, romance, and comedy perfectly. With all of these aspects coming together, the nostalgic elements and the new paths flow wonderfully and never come across as heavy-handed as they did in the original film.
Top Gun: Maverick is very aware of itself and what came before it as Maverick (Cruise) is in charge of testing out the latest and greatest planes for the United States. The government is hellbent on replacing humankind with robotic drones, but as the first sequence relays, it's about the pilot, not the plane as Maverick showcases his rebellious ways to be the fastest person in the world. This sets in motion his forced return to Top Gun where he is to teach a new class for an extremely dangerous mission that seems, well - impossible. Among the students is Bradley Bradshaw, aka Rooster, otherwise known as Goose's only son played by Miles Teller. There is tension between these two as Rooster still hasn't forgiven Maverick for the past. Meanwhile, Maverick himself is struggling with being an out-of-print dinosaur in his business of flying planes and his romantic life with Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) which has been spinning for years. It's fascinating to watch unfold as Maverick plays the professor to a bunch of cocky kids where once again, life has come full circle.
Kosinski and McQuarrie do a fantastic job in hitting those nostalgic beats without being too on the nose. With familiar song cues, similar character traits in the new Top Gun fliers, and some iconic lines of dialogue - these pieces of nostalgia work perfectly and will conjure up applause and smiles rather than eye-rolls and groans. This time around, even the beach football scene plays much better and has a bigger purpose. But then the final action climax comes to play in a big, big way that represents Star Wars in the best elements possible. Yes, it's true. Tom Cruise has made a Star Wars movie with Top Gun: Maverick and it's a damn delight to watch unfold on the big IMAX screen. Cruise's attention to detail in performing his own stunts is flawless here as these camera shots of him flying a jet and the better cinematography in this sequel make every bit of action more suspenseful with high-octane thrills. There are many audible "WOW" moments during the final act that will be mentioned for awards.
Cruise hasn't lost a beat as Maverick and since his time in the first film, he's brought a ton of his experience with many directors to this stage. His emotions over Goose and Ice-Man are fantastic and well-earned. Miles Teller as Bradshaw is wonderful too, as his struggle to deal with his past and deceased father come to a head in a great way. Connelly is excellent on-screen as she always is and holds her own to convince Maverick to do the right thing. Meanwhile, Glen Powell (Everybody Wants Some) is the bright shining co-star here as his Ice-Man-like cockiness and absurdity are spot-on and amazingly wonderful. Hans Zimmer, Lady Gaga, and the original film's composer Harold Faltermeyer have created a brand new score that mixes the original notes with some new ones for a memorable score. And of course, Lady Gaga's new song will be remembered by the end of the year.
Top Gun: Maverick is the perfect sequel with fantastic performances and some of the best action sequences of recent memory. This is how movie sequels should be made and it seems that audiences will eat this one up. There is hope for another sequel as well, as long as Cruise can continue to be in charge of stunts and keep things thrilling like he has been doing for years now. Again, Top Gun: Maverick is Cruise's Star Wars and that's just incredible. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!