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  • Chloe Mastour

Movie Review- Top Gun: Maverick is a Soaring Success

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick flew Mach 10 into the box office this past Memorial Day weekend. After spending some time on hold in what Hollywood likes to call the “development hull” due to the pandemic, the long-awaited sequel to the 1986 classic smashed Memorial Day records to take $156 million at the U.S. box office. This grand slam marks a career-best for Tom Cruise and the biggest Memorial Day success ever since Pirates of the Caribean: At World’s End. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, Top Gun: Maverick features an all-star cast, including Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, and Miles Teller. As the theater lights began to dim and Loggins’ Danger Zone got my blood pumping, I could tell I was in for a real treat.

Throughout Cruise's long and impressive career, few movies stand out as much as Top Gun. The ‘86 film had Cruise playing Maverick, a skilled and arrogant Navy pilot complete with the aviator sunglasses, the Kawasaki motorcycle, and the need for speed. The movie was a fun, energetic 80s movie that helped make Cruise the blockbuster star he is today. Now, after more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete Mitchell is where he belongs: pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. Now, Maverick is tasked with training the best of the best for a specific mission. For this mission, you not only need a Top Gun, but a Maverick.

The Mission: to blow up the nuclear facility of America’s enemy. The pilots must fly through a narrow ravine only one hundred meters from the ground, (or surface-to-air missiles will strike the planes), fly up and over a mountain, flip over the plane, take the shot, and zoom out over a cliff (which will land them into conflict with enemy aircraft). The “enemy” remains a clever mystery. Rumor has it that the “enemy” is Iran, though the snowy landscape of the nuclear facility leads me to believe it’s Russia, mainly because the enemy jets are clearly SU-57s. Nevertheless, the ever-changing enemy not only allows for the film to age slower but Top Gun: Maverick will quickly become an instant hit in other parts of the world.

I believe that this movie will be a crowd-pleaser all around. Yes, this film is a bit corny, its lines are sometimes predictable, and a few jokes were recycled from the original, though this film’s success proves one thing: Americans want to believe in America again. There’s a baseline patriotism to the film that’s never spoken but rather implied. Unlike most of the trash that Hollywood’s been churning lately, this movie promotes the military as a bunch of good-looking young people heading out to defend the country under the riskiest of circumstances. While these guys are under a lot of stress, they aren’t damaged as a result. Finally, Hollywood portrays America’s heroes as awesome, not as victims of mental illness or as terrorizing imperialists. We love to see it!

It’s starting to feel like the 80s, alright, back when “proud to be an American” was a sentiment not only to be tolerated but celebrated. Military thrillers just don’t get better! This sweet new piece of “military propaganda” was worth the wait, and no better timing than on Memorial Day weekend, a grand salute to our vets, past, and present. With this instant classic in theaters, I predict that navy recruiters will be very busy in the coming year…

When I heard that a sequel to the iconic original was in the works, it seemed to me like Hollywood was only chasing clouds (pun intended). Nevertheless, this movie was a perfect homage to the original while also introducing something fresh. This movie kept close to the original in more than a few respects: the film features some of the original music, the classic opening credits scene which tricked me into thinking I was re-watching the original, and volleyball on the beach which was replaced with football all in a conscientious effort to roll with the times. The only 80s relic missing from this film was “negative ghost rider, the pattern is full.” Other than that, the nostalgia notes hit just right. Keep in mind that you don’t need to be a fan of the original Top Gun to enjoy this movie. I am a huge fan of the original and I’m now an even bigger fan of the sequel, which was phenomenal in all of the right ways.

When it comes to Top Gun: Maverick, don’t cheat yourself! Spend the extra cash and watch it in IMAX. Separate yourself from your lame streaming device, hit the largest screen you can find, and grab a jumbo popcorn with a can of soda. The cinematography in this movie, especially in the first couple of scenes when Maverick flies the experimental Darkstar plane, is breathtaking. When watching those incredible dogfight scenes on the big screen, you won’t believe that the movie features very few special effects! Throughout the entire third act, I found myself jumping up and down in my seat when watching those real-life aerial battles along with the sound and visuals that grab you like you’re on a rollercoaster (too bad paramount doesn't have a theme park because I have a feeling America would pay good money to fly in the cockpit like a true Top Gun hotshot). This is a movie that demands it be seen in the theater, not only because the aerial footage of the F-18s is wholly indescribable, but also because of the unbelievable sound quality; believe me, the vibrating afterburners and the roaring engines make a considerable difference! It’s one of those movie experiences that you just won’t find at home.

Although watching this movie is exhilarating, its greatness does not lie in the real-life flight sequences and the spectacular footage of the real fighter jets used on set; surprisingly, the characters were solid all throughout. The film features a tough yet lovable crew of compendium navy pilots who are high-spirited, fun, and interesting. Along with military bruisers flying jets, the tension is stacked in every scene. Top Gun: Maverick gives you what you expect: classic sports on the beach, chaotic dogfights, and a whole lot of Danger Zone; yet this movie goes one step beyond by pushing the emotional buttons. Iceman is back for a very brief but meaningful cameo, though unfortunately Val Kilmer now looks more like Jon Voight than Val Kilmer. Another great dynamic plays out between Cruise and Jennnifer Connelly, Cruise’s love interest throughout the film. That whole affaire de cœur didn’t necessarily serve as a major enhancement to the plot, but I suppose the audience likes watching Cruise involve himself with someone his own age for once.

There are several conflicts throughout the movie. Firstly, Maverick does not play nice with the rest of the military, who believes him to be outdated, wild, and essentially, too much of a maverick. This film is about a man who is not only learning to accept that he cannot control everything around him but is also learning to age into a graceful retirement. The second conflict involves Goose’s son (Miles Teller), now one of Top Gun’s pilots (who does a very convincing impression of Goose). Cruise has been watching over the pilot since childhood, to the point of obstructing his Navy career at certain points to keep the boy out of “the danger zone.” Now Maverick must decide if the second-gen pilot is capable of flying this very dangerous mission. Top Gun: Maverick is one of the best sequels I have ever seen, to where I daresay it actually eclipses the original in terms of quality and storytelling.

As per usual, Cruise was at the top of his game in the movie. He may be a bit of a kooky guy, what with his newfangled Scientology and looney cult beliefs; however, the actor is one of the greatest action stars of our time. Not only can the guy maneuver jet planes and helicopters, but he performs wild motorcycle stunts and continually risks his life on set solely for the sake of entertainment. Soon to reach the ripe age of sixty-one, Cruise looks back on more than thirty-five years of entertaining in all kinds of movies and in a slew of genres (I was pleased to catch a glimpse of the upcoming Mission Impossible in theaters); though it sure will be a sad day when he no longer feels the need, the need for speed.

Top Gun: Maverick was everything I wanted it to be: exciting, fun, action-packed, intense, and very nostalgic. I can’t think of a better summer movie and a true crowd-pleaser. Whatever Cruise and his production team have sorted out during the making of the last few Mission Impossible movies was clearly applied to the making of this movie, and it’s all the better. The clever references to the original film, the engaging storyline, and of course the action-packed dogfights all made this movie so fun to watch! I think this was one of the best sequels ever made, possibly one of the best action movies ever made. Everyone in the theater was in such a good mood when the movie ended because Top Gun: Maverick was a real movie, not a cheap cash grab that tarnishes a legacy. I haven’t spoken to anybody yet who hasn’t enjoyed the film, which is a rarity. This is just one of those things that we don’t get to see as much anymore. If this movie can’t save the theaters, there’s no hope!

I’d love a third Top Gun. In the meantime, I’ll see this one again and again.

Go and support this movie, on the double!

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