'Top Gun Maverick' review: Tom Cruise and the story are still as impactful as before
For those who grew up watching and loving Tom Cruise and his films, 'Top Gun: Maverick' is a perfect post-pandemic gift from one of Hollywood's biggest stars.
It's been more than three decades since Tom Cruise made us all fall in love with flying. As US Navy's fighter pilot Pete 'Maverick' Mitchel in 'Top Gun', Cruise catapulted to the big league and the film earned cult classic status. It is always a big risk to make a sequel to an iconic hit and it took the makers 35 years to come up with 'Top Gun: Maverick'. A film that somewhat picks up from 1986 original but this time with a nearly 60-year-old Tom Cruise at the helm of affairs. Does it work? Yes and mainly due to the film's leading man and his everlasting charm- age notwithstanding.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, 'Top Gun Maverick' begins 35 years from where 'Top Gun' left. Captain Pete 'Maverick' Mitche; (Tom Cruise) is now mostly flying solo and has evaded the ranks in his career because he doesn't play by the book- still. A risky pilot, he is summoned by Top Gun- US Navy's flying school for fighter pilots- to train a batch of pilots for a mission that can be fatal. Initially reluctant to take up the job, Maverick does take on the job on the behest of his old colleague and friend Ice (Val Kilmer in a special cameo) who is now an admiral in the US Navy.
Maverick though has personal demons to fight as one of the students in the course is Lieutenant Bradley 'Rooster' Bradshaw(Miles Teller), the son of Maverick's late best friend and RIO Nick 'Goose' Bradshaw (played by Anthony Edwards in the original).
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Rooster and Maverick's relationship is a strained one and that hinders Maverick from taking a few calls in the training program initially. With undercurrent tensions, will Maverick be able to train the pilots for a job that can risk their lives?
Hollywood is crowded with superhero action films and most thrillers resort to VFX to make cutting edge films. Makers of 'Top Gun: Maverick' reportedly trained some of their actors inside the cockpit for 3 months before filming- which makes the film's experience far more authentic.
Of course, some of the moments in the film are almost a replica of the original- of the shirtless pilots playing beach volleyball, of the bromance and rivalry between the pilots- typical of a good old Hollywood actioner, but somehow it works. The scenes between Cruise and Teller are well performed and well written- you can sense the uneasiness between the two characters right from the beginning. The scene featuring Cruise and Kilmer is special and slightly emotional and rides high nostalgia.
While 'Top Gun: Maverick' tries to tell a different story from the original and has an impressive new cast on board, it ultimately showcases Cruise in all his glory. At 60 he is fitter than some of his peers and doesn't shy away from going shirtless on screen. He does shy away from filming a full fledged love scene with his on-screen romantic interest Penny (Jennifer Connelly). Instead, they are shown to romance the old fashioned way, with more exhange of words and suggestive moves.
Cruise's presence looms large and he doesn't disappoint his fans. He delivers a summer blockbuster, playing the Alpha-male to the hilt who can die for his country, romance the honourable way, play a father figure to his students and fight his inner demons while being commissioned on one of the toughest missions of his career.
Other actors like John Hamm as Vice Admiral, Jennifer Connelly as the spirited Penny, and Miles Teller as the angsty Rooster are equally good in their roles- complementing Cruise in every scene and playing their part well.
'Top Gun: Maverick' is predictable by the end, but it still manages to hold your attention with the glorious camera work by Claudio Miranda. The airshow with fighter jets racing against time and the enemy is well captured on screen and is best viewed on the big screen.
There's very little that goes against the film, really. 'Top Gun: Maverick' is your typical summer blockbuster. It has got a bit of everything- action, romance, comedy and thrilling fighter planes. For those who grew up watching and loving Tom Cruise and his films, it's a perfect post-pandemic gift from one of Hollywood's biggest stars.
'Top Gun: Maverick' is running in theatres across the world.