2022 action Featured film movie review

Top Gun: Maverick (2022) Review

Top Gun: Maverick is an excellent sequel to the 80's classic! I would highly recommend you see this on the biggest screen you can!

by Ian Morton

Top Gun: Maverick is the best way to kick off the summer blockbuster season as Tom Cruise et al. take a ride into the danger zone in an intense, action packed sequel to the 1986 original.

Picking up some odd 30 years after the original, the plot continues to follow the exploits of Pete Mitchell – aka Maverick (his call sign) – a long in the tooth flight captain testing top secret planes for the military. Having seemingly been held back in his career, he still lives the same way he did in the 80’s; flying fast and pushing things to the limit – traits that his superiors see as impulsive and disrespectful. After a test flight goes a little awry, Mitchell is close to losing his job until the US Navy, and in particular the Top Gun flight school, call the ‘old timer’ back to train a new group of recruits for the mission of their lives.

There is always a fear with films like this that the intention is far more cyni-quel than sequel. As more and more stories from the past are being forced back into the collective consciousness, the aura around nostalgic cinema has been fully exploited in an attempt to bleed every ounce of money from old studio IP but leaving little for the audience to savour. Sequels in the last few years, particular films going back to the 80’s and 90’s are particularly in vogue at the moment; Ghostbusters, Dumb and Dumber, Wall Street, The Matrix, The Terminator, Halloween – all of these have had the long-term sequel treatment, some even going as far as retconning previous attempts at moving the story on – but many have failed either under the weight of expectations or worse, pure laziness by studios not thinking through what a follow-up would even mean to the original idea. Given all that has come before, it seems like Paramount and everyone involved have seemingly done the impossible with Top Gun: Maverick – creating a banging blockbuster sequel from an 80’s classic that rounds off a story in an intelligent and ultimately enjoyable way.

Top Gun: Maverick

Director Joseph Kosinski injects heart into proceedings by introducing us to an ageing protagonist – Mitchell is older and beaten by the world around him and the story dissects and investigates this within the ego-driven world the first film was well known for. Unlike the original, this is a more grown up world than before, less need for speed and more need to succeed and it’s interesting to see how Maverick fits into it. This comes from the fact that the film is centred around an actual mission this time around, the recruits needing to perform a series of real world manoeuvres in order to take down an illegal Uranium facility that only Maverick can prepare them for. This leads to an actual plot – a beginning, middle and end that the audience can get behind and sets the pace for the stonking action scenes to come.

‘Stonking’ however just doesn’t feel like a good enough adjective to describe the events unfolding on screen. When the film was first announced, it was widely reported that Tom Cruise was behind the project but only if the production used real stunts as well as real planes – the results absolutely speak for themselves. The frenetic action is wildly authentic given the realness of events. The in-cockpit camera angles are a stroke of genius and gives a perspective that green screen just cannot render.This gives the film an incredible sense of realism, authentically 3D in that you can feel the speed of the aircraft and squirm at the G-forces all captured in frame rather than added in post production. It is pure spectacle that should and MUST be seen on the biggest screen possible.

Tying everything together is the pure strength and conviction of Tom Cruise. Top Gun kicked Cruise’s career off and it seems fitting for the actor to come back to it at this stage in his career. With the help of collaborator Christopher McQuarrie (serving as both producer and co-writer), Maverick is an older version of his 1986 character but with flecks of other Cruise counterparts adding further dimensions to the role. Playing with the same humour found in the Mission Impossible franchise and the cheekiness of his earlier films (Risky Business, Cocktail) makes Mitchell far more relatable than perhaps he was way back then, and it gives the audience a blockbuster hero that everyone can get behind. 

Top Gun: Maverick sets a benchmark for what all sequels need to be in order to find success. The plot and themes make sense in the context of who and where the characters ended up at the end of the first film. The action is full of intensely realistic, edge of your seat jet fighting that raises the bar higher than the original. And the performances have matured and changed in a similar way as those who fell in love with the first outing. It just all works, a true white knuckle ride of a film that will ultimately leave you punching the air with delight.

Top Gun: Maverick is exclusively in cinemas 25th May.

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