• DERRICK DUNN

Top Gun: Maverick is a high flying sequel made for the theater

Updated: May 28


Tom Cruise brings one of his most iconic movie characters back to the big screen in Paramount Pictures Top Gun: Maverick. Joseph Kosinski steps into the director's chair for the late Tony Scott, while Ehren Kruger, Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie handle the scripting duties.

After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy's top aviators, Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of Top Gun graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: "Rooster," the son of Maverick's late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka "Goose."

Along with Rooster, the recruits include the socially inept Bob (Lewis Pullman), the implacable boys-club wrecker Phoenix (Monica Barbaro), as well as the team's lone wolf antagonist, Hangman (Glen Powell). Other new characters introduced in the film include a great call back to the first film in the form of Maverick's love interest Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly), and Jon Hamm as Vice Admiral Beau "Cyclone" Simpson, who doesn't like the cut of Maverick's job.

Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from the aviators chosen to fly it.

Top Gun is easily one of the most popular movies of the eighties. So seeing movie star Tom Cruise return to one of his most famous characters arrives with tons of fanfare. The sequel opens up with an excellent call back to the first film that fans will genuinely appreciate. We meet Maverick, and Cruise slides back into the role with ease, using the charm and swag fans have to come to know him for.

While I don't detail how Maverick winds up back at Top Gun, kudos to the scriptwriters for the angle, they decided to use. Once Maverick arrives back at Top Gun, the fun begins, and viewers should strap in for a fast-paced two hours. The new additions to the cast all do well in their roles, and viewers will quickly pick up on the character templates in correlation to the original film.

My only real gripe with the film was that there's no mention of Kelly McGilli's character from the original movie. Nearly every other plot beat from the last movie receives a shout-out. A simple line of dialogue such as "I chose the Navy" would've worked. In addition, I found Jay Ellis's character of Payback a bit underwritten. Nevertheless, most fans won't care about my minor gripes with the film. They want aviation action, and in that regard, the film delivers.

Architect turned director Joesph Kosinski has a love for the cinema. His images have an aesthetic that combines minimalist gadgets and vehicles with photorealistic scenarios that make the most of the big screen. His passion for the cinema shows in his use of the IMAX cameras. Kosinski previously used them in Tron: Legacy, Oblivion, and the vastly underrated firefighter drama Only the Brave.

Top Gun: Maverick will easily become one of the summer's biggest moneymakers and may even find its way into a few years' ten best lists at the end of the year. If only one movie is worth the trip to the theater for you this summer, then Top Gun: Maverick is the one.

Final Grade: A

Top Gun: Maverick opens in theaters tomorrow, May 26th.

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