Please note, this review has not been paid for by the Church of Scientology. It was 36 years ago that director Tony Scott (Unstoppable, The Taking of Pelham 123) brought Top Gun to the big screen. It cemented Tom Cruise as one of the most bankable action stars in the world – a tag that has stayed with him throughout what has to be the most illustrious career in all of Hollywood bar none.
With its mix of breath-taking action and fantastic soundtrack that of course featured that classic tune, Danger Zone, Top Gun became a box office success and instant classic – transcending generation after generation. Now, almost 40 years on, Cruise is back – but can this maverick soar to new heights and capture the imagination of a whole new generation of moviegoers?
After more than 30 years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. Training a detachment of graduates for a special assignment, Maverick must confront the ghosts of his past and his deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who choose to fly it.
Director Joseph Kosinski (Only the Brave, Tron Legacy) takes over the legacy of Tony Scott who sadly died in 2012, and crafts a beautifully filmed blockbuster, packed with edge of your seat action and a surprising amount of heart.
The story is formulaic – incredibly so, with a cast of young characters (that also includes Miles Teller) being taught by Cruise before a deadly mission into enemy territory. If we were judging the film on the story alone, then it’d be dead in the water, however thanks to some dedicated performances and aerial action like you’ve never seen, Top Gun: Maverick is one of the best blockbusters in years.
Cruise is his ever-reliable self – when have you ever seen Tom Cruise not give it his all? And the cast of plucky young pilots all have individual personalities which is great to see – Miles Teller is a particularly highlight and perfectly fits in with the tone of the film. Jennifer Connelly pops up every now and then as love interest, Penny, but it’s a shame she’s sidelined in a thankless role that doesn’t really go anywhere.
There are also some issues with characters being introduced and never being seen again – one pretty big casting choice in particular is relegated to just a couple of minutes of screen time, making me wonder if some reshoots had taken place to change up the script a little.
But you didn’t come to watch Top Gun: Maverick to see characters walking around and talking now did you? The action is absolutely exquisite. With every sequence, the audience is taken on a journey that feels so real that you find yourself moving around in your seat, following the path of the fighter jets.
From start to finish, the film is peppered with aerial action, opening with an incredible sequence featuring Cruise aboard a supersonic jet, and culminating in what has to be one of the best finales to a blockbuster I have ever seen – it really is that good.
Top Gun: Maverick conclusion
It’s always easy to criticise sequels for lacking originality and cashing in on nostalgia, and yes, that is often the case. However, what Joseph Kosinski and Tom Cruise have done with Top Gun: Maverick is capture the essence of the original, while forging their own path – and for that, it continues to prove the theory that Tom Cruise really does have the Midas touch.