‘Top Gun: Maverick’ review: Tom Cruise’s thrilling flight into sequel zone


With an artful blend of nostalgia and full-throttle action, Top Gun: Maverick has soared beyond any of its rights to build a terrific sequel 36 years later (including a Covid release delay), with a good but not very good movie as a starting point. That might not be enough to take your breath away, but with the magnificent summer entertainment going on, it’s surprisingly close.

original features Tom Cruise On the cusp of his early days as a movie star, but he proved that even as an older man, there’s a lot more in the tank. If you need bookends for characters from nearly four decades, you can do worse than that.

An older but not necessarily smarter description of Cruise’s Pete Mitchell, aka the maverick, intrepid Navy aviator whose career didn’t match his high-flying skills, mainly because he had avoidance orders and A bad habit of defiance of authority.

“I’m where I belong,” Maverick said, when asked why he’s still a captain after all these years, just to reset the mood after introducing Kenny Loggins’ song “Danger Zone.”

On the brink of paying the price for it, he gets the proverbial last chance and is called back to Top Gun to train pilots for a top-secret mission that includes Rooster (Myers Steller), the son of the groom’s lost partner, in the first movie.

Not only that, but the chance to reconnect with old friend Iceman (Val Kilmer, their off-screen health issues fit well into the story); a run-in with the Commander (Jon Hamm); and an old lover (Jennifer Connelly). Yes, the film replicates the rivalry between these tough pilots, though the ranks have expanded to include more people of color and a woman (Monica Barbaro) who can have her own thing.

Cruise reunites with “Forgotten” director Joseph Kosinski, with a script from three writers, including the star’s frequent collaborator Christopher McQuarrie. Somehow, the film manages to, in the intervening decades, um, fly, paint a portrait of a man whose “need for speed” both pushes him forward and holds him back, especially in the promise and absence. root side.

Even the seemingly exhausting episode where the Mavericks felt guilty about Goose and worried about adding his kids to that wreck over the years worked surprisingly well. Part of that has to do with the emotional moorings of the films, which are sentimental but not syrupy. (dedicated to the late Tony Scott, Whoever directed the original is another good choice. )

Still, it’s called “Top Gun” for a reason, and the aerial sequence is visceral and effective, conveying the adrenaline and bodily hurt of speeding through the sky and the eagerness to brave the The mindset required for these risks.

Somehow, “Maverick” manages to reclaim the latter beat — with a very good new set of pilots — and still feel modern while approaching the old-fashioned virtues of the kind of movies that flourished in the ’80s, but It has been found that dramatic skies have become less friendly in recent years.

Paramount has waited a long time for Top Gun to release in theaters, and the bet seems likely to pay off. Because while you can watch Maverick’s heroics, as the man put it, from the comfort of your home, the big screen is where he belongs.

“Top Gun: Maverick” will premiere in U.S. theaters on May 27. It is rated PG-13.

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