Top Gun: Maverick is the sequel to the original Top Gun from 1986. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the sequel again focuses on Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Tom Cruise) as a man on his way to retirement from flying. Beau ‘Cyclone’ Simpson (Jon Hamm), pressured by Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky (Val Kilmer), offers him one last hurrah—to train a group of fighter pilots at Top Gun for a difficult mission.
The best parts of Top Gun: Maverick are Tom Cruise and the camaraderie between the pilots and the action. While there is little we learn about the other characters outside of their relationship with Maverick, Top Gun: Maverick is a captivating, exciting sequel that does not tarnish the original film. This film brings a smile to the face.
More Of What The First Film Did Well
At the beginning of his career, the first Top Gun showed Maverick when he competed to be number one in Top Gun alongside his partner Goose (Anthony Edwards). The tension was built on the competition, then whether Maverick would be able to continue after losing Goose. Top Gun: Maverick does not use the same formula but shifts slightly.
Here a reluctant Maverick instructs students who have already gone through Top Gun. The conflict stems from whether these students will be able to pull off their mission. But that’s not all. Amidst the students is Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of Maverick’s past partner Goose. Their conflict is one of the issues Maverick tries to resolve because Rooster can’t learn from Maverick if he does not trust Maverick.
Pilots With Personality
Thanks to the broader focus on the students, audiences can cheer for the favorites like Natasha ‘Phoenix’ Trace (Monica Barbaro) or Reuben ‘Payback’ Fitch (Jay Ellis). Maverick’s interactions with the students, first getting them to trust him, then uniting them, is fun to watch. There are also the nods to previous Top Gun scenes, like “Playing With The Boys,” but a diverse cast makes the scene better. Viewers can see themselves in the game, rather than watching from the sidelines or not existing at all.
Some Sections Are Unnecessary or Flat
The relationship between Maverick and Penny (Jennifer Connelly) felt unnecessary. The first Top Gun mentions her in passing. She is present only as a romantic interest and gives Maverick pep talks when needed. While other characters also revolve around Maverick, there are scenes of them separate. Besides, it is tiresome seeing women in that one-dimensional role. The film is excellent, but it would be exceptional without the romance.
Maverick and Rooster lack depth but have comedic moments. The focus is on Maverick, but there is a way to do that and have characters separate from the lead. Top Gun: Maverick does a better job than the first film but falters in sections. Miles Teller as Rooster fits the cocky, smarmy character. The conflict between them is there but feels lacking. So it is hard to be invested in their relationship when other aspects of the movie shine brighter…like the action.
Feels Like You’re In The Cockpit
While Tom Cruise has played versions of Maverick in other films, from Mission Impossible to Jack Reacher, it is no less memorable. Tom Cruise stated the cast had to train with F/A-18s, and the difference shows. The sequences have nail-biting tension, especially since those who saw the first Top Gun decades ago are around the age of Maverick. Dealing with young people who feel they know it all is familiar. I loved watching Maverick defeat them and rally their spirits to believe they could complete their mission.
Overall, Top Gun: Maverick gives audiences more of what they loved in the first film without following its predecessor step by step. Top Gun: Maverick carves out a path all its own with exhilarating action and a marvelous cast. Add it to your list and complete your Top Gun collection.