When it comes to American classics, there are not many that are as prevalent as Top Gun. The film by Todd Scott arrived on the scene in 1986 and despite getting mix reviews initially, the action movie has become one of the most cherished films of all time and going as far as being preserved by the National Film Registry due to its cultural and historical significance. With such accolades, it is surprising that Top Gun has not received a continuation sooner. Plans for a sequel were underway as early as 2012, but the film was put on hold due to the passing of Todd Scott. It was not until 2017 when this sequel was considered again, and after much development as well as a few delays a new mission begins in the 2022 film Top Gun: Maverick.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the new film sees Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) returns to Top Gun to train a batch of young pilots for a dangerous mission. As stated, the movie began development in 2017 and was set for a 2019 release. However due to shooting more complex scenes, the movie was postponed which would be the first of many delays. After going through an of release dates, the sequel finally made its way to theaters and received a massive reception from critics and moviegoers a like; but what about this Film Adventurer? Truth be told I am not a fan of the original film having only seeing it a year ago and not understanding the movie’s reputation. Yet I wanted to give this new film a chance and, strange as it may seem, I find myself agreeing with the consensus as Top Gun: Maverick exceeded all my expectations.
My biggest issue with Top Gun was its story as, though it had its moments, there was little storytelling to be had. So, this was a concern going into Top Gun: Maverick but thankfully my skepticism was unfounded. The story had some issues, like being formulaic in areas, and some points such as Maverick’s history with old flame Penny (Jennifer Connelly) needed some clarification. Yet despite these issues, the plot to this sequel was more than captivating. The stakes surrounding the plot was engaging and kept elements such as Maverick’s personal tale grounded. Along with its impressive drama, this story featured some moments that, under the right circumstances, could be considered absurd. Yet due to the movie’s executions, these moments were effective and only added to the more entertaining aspects surroundings this sequel.
Like the story I was not sure what to expect from the cast but, sure enough, I found myself with this film’s ensemble. Tom Cruise redefines his role as Maverick. The issues Maverick deals with balanced his more charismatic traits, and Cruise performance only gave more levity to this veteran pilot. Equally as impressive were the new recruits. From the troubled Rooster (Miles Teller) to cocky Hangman (Glen Powell), each of these characters had something to offer the movie with Teller, to no surprise, being the standout character of this group. Along with this group was an array of solid veteran actors. Connelly was enjoyable as Penny and the likes of Charles Parnell and Jon Hamm were formidable in their respected roles. Finally cementing this cast was none other than Val Kilmer as the returning Iceman. While his appearance was brief, Kilmer’s role was more than effective by having a great scene with Cruise and giving this ragtag cast the stability, it needed to standout.
The biggest appeal going into this movie was the flight sequences as they looked impressive even from the film’s previews, and they did not disappoint. Between the practical visuals and the creative shots, each sequence was gripping, and no scene was one in the same. The flight sequences were, to no surprise, where the action resided as the movie featured its share of dogfights. These moments were impressive and truly benefited from the movie’s keen execution. Last and certainly not least was the music for this sequel which was handled by several artists such as Hans Zimmer and Lady Gaga. The music was more than fitting not just the movie itself, but for its respected series as it captured the same tone from the first film’s soundtrack.
In a time where legacy films are the norm, Top Gun: Maverick soars as one of the best. The sequel builds upon predecessor with its exceptional storytelling and stellar cast, and the fantastic presentation makes this movie into a terrific spectacle. The quality of this film is so impressive that it even remedies some of the issues I have with the 1986 film, and that is a rare feat. It may have taken three decades but Top Gun: Maverick showed it was worth the wait by being an extraordinary sequel, an entertaining blockbuster and easily one of the best films of 2022.