Top Gun: Maverick – Movie Review

Directed by : Joseph Kosinski

Written by : Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie

Starring : Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, Monica Barbaro, and Val Kilmer

After years of delays ranging from production issues to a full-blown pandemic, the audiences’ need for speed has been fulfilled with the long-awaited release of Top Gun: Maverick.

Movie star, theatrical cinema absolutist, and daredevil himself Tom Cruise returns as Lt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell after almost 40 years. Going into a project like Top Gun: Maverick, one might expect action, explosions, and vulgar display of 80’s testosterone to plaster the entire runtime — but what they might not expect coming into the danger zone is heart.

Because that’s the biggest strength of Maverick, an over-abundance of heart that flows through every frame within character interactions and breathtakingly shot action scenes. Top Gun: Maverick starts off with a bang, nostalgia firing on all cylinders that will transport avid fans of the original back to 1986. But it only uses nostalgia as an appetizer and never the whole main-course. When it’s done flirting with the familiarities of the original — Top Gun: Maverick goes on to an important mission; moving the characters forward.

Despite looking as a modern-day ‘legacyquel’ at first glance, ala Force Awakens and Creed. Maverick differs from them by still having its veteran as the main marquee star. Cruise’s Maverick is still front and center when it comes to the story and he gets a brand new arc that coincides with Miles Teller’s Roosterplaying as the son of Goose from the original. Without going into too much details, the dynamics between Cruise and Teller were great to watch and the baggage that their characters carried was explored in an engaging way. Cruise didn’t just show up and played himself, he truly embodied a time-tested Maverick who’s been haunted by his past mistakes.

But the bread and butter of this movie is the incredibly shot aerial action scenes. Cruise — being the lover of death-defying stunts himself — demanded all cockpit scenes to be shot inside an actual, flying fighter jet . This results in immersive and vivid interior cockpit shots that truly feels a step-above other movies. Not to mention, the masterful blending of CGI and practical effects during the white-knuckling dogfights, anchored by award-winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda.

Within all of the high-altitude tension of Top Gun: Maverick, much of the film’s pacing can get just slightly rocky during the last act, and some of the film’s attempt at injecting Marvel-esque humor into the mix falls flat, considering the stoic tone of the film. But none of these minor nitpicks chipped off any of the film’s effortless charm and heart throughout its 2-hour, 17-minute runtime.

Top Gun: Maverick not only manages to stick its proverbial landing by honoring its wildly-iconic predecessor, but it accomplishes the impossible feat of surpassing it in spades — injecting heart into both characters and bombastic action scenes.

Top Gun: Maverick is Now Available in Theaters.

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