Top Gun: Maverick is a triumphant, propulsive action blockbuster

Against all odds, the sequel 36 years later to Tom Cruise’s iconic ’80s blockbuster really is that good.

If you think the sequel 36 years later to Tom Cruise’s Top Gun extravaganza is going to dial the cheese and fetishize the US military, you’d be right.

Top Gun: Maverick does both of these things and with a heavy dose of seriousness. But you know what? It doesn’t even matter because he – miraculously – earns that reverence and sincerity. Top Gun: Maverick isn’t a wonderful movie despite that, it’s wonderful because he doesn’t apologize for leaning into it.

against all odds, Top Gun: Maverick is a heart-pounding, heart-pounding action blockbuster that dazzles with its heavy, daredevil aerial sequences, real emotional stakes, and a billion-dollar, charm-laden performance from Cruise that reminds everyone exactly why he’s one of the bona fide films remaining stars.

Cruise may have some real-life reputation issues, but when he flashes that still-childish megawatt grin on the big screen, there’s no denying the power of his charisma. And few actors are as committed to delivering a spectacular cinematic experience as he is.

Cruise returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, still a Navy fighter pilot with an insatiable need for speed, his head literally in the clouds, and a perpetual thorn in the side of anyone with stars on their shoulder pads (Ed Harris, Jon Hamm).

After an unauthorized stunt, Maverick is ordered to return to Top Gun, but not fly. He must teach an elite squadron of young pilots who will embark on an almost impossible mission.

An unnamed enemy state (clearly Russia) is about to bring a banned nuclear facility online and the only way to stop it is through a dangerous mission where survival is far from guaranteed.

Among the new generation is Rooster (Miles Teller), Goose’s son. Maverick and Rooster have a complicated relationship due to the older man’s guilt over Goose’s death, still haunting him decades later, while Rooster resents Maverick for the obstacles he put in his way. his career.

This overhang of Superior gun is all over this movie, but it’s woven together in a way that doesn’t alienate or confuse those who haven’t seen the original or weren’t so enamored with it.

All you need is a passing familiarity with ’80s action blockbusters to pick up the beats.

maverick is beautifully balanced between nostalgia and modernity. Contemporary sensibilities don’t feel forced, and the throwback vibe doesn’t feel anachronistic until 2022.

A budding romance between Maverick and Penny (Jennifer Connelly) has the hallmarks of Superior gun era but his character has agency and is clearly his match. While the new class of talent (Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis and Lewis Pullman) is a new injection into a once hypermasculine and undiverse world.

The story even has a subplot about the continued relevance of human pilots when drone technologies threaten to replace them.

But the real highlight of maverickwhere it really excels is its extraordinary action sequences – which really deliver on the promise of Berlin’s iconic Superior gun “Breathtaking” theme.

Director Joe Kosinski and, it must be said, Cruise, have created some high-octane, genuinely captivating sets in the air that have gravity and stakes. Planes soar in stunning displays while in-cockpit performance puts you right there.

The scenes were not shot in front of a green screen inside a hydraulic plane, but in the air where cameras were mounted inside the cockpit and the actors felt the full weight of the G-Force in each picture. That makes all the difference.

These sequences are tight, with editor Eddie Hamilton cutting between close-ups of the cockpit of several pilots, wide shots of the action and the return to the control room. It’s a masterclass in how action and stunts should be edited – it’s not just that the tempo and pace of these scenes are stunning, but that you can actually follow the action, from so you always know exactly what’s going on.

And it’s all backed by a thundering, reverberating score that draws on Harold Faltermeyer’s soundtrack, which places you in the propulsive action, in the world of Superior gun and in a truly engrossing, forward-leaning cinematic experience. It’s a triumph.

Rating: 4.5/5

Top Gun: Maverick is in theaters May 26.

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