I wasn’t a huge fan of the 1986 film Top Gun. I watched it really late, and it was a movie that had a lot of familiar traits, which I guess was a relatively new thing back when it was released. The sequel to Top Gun, Top Gun: Maverick, comes after 36 years after the first one, and the good thing is that the Tony Scott film helps Top Gun: Maverick achieve that Rocky-Creed kind of depth. Initially, it gives us a feeling that they are somewhere replicating the same character equations of the original. But with some smart and emotional tweaks, Top Gun: Maverick becomes a superior sequel.
After 36 years, we are introduced to Captain Pete Maverick Mitchell, who still tends to disobey his seniors. One such action results in him getting transferred to the Top Gun institute as a trainer. He is assigned the training responsibility of the best in the lot for a mission that will happen in 3 weeks. And to make things complicated, Maverick’s best friend Goose’s son is also there. The drama that unfolds during this training is what we witness in Top Gun: Maverick.
There is a tendency to Dejavoo things script-wise, like the latest Matrix reboot. The new bach kids also have an iceman equivalent, and an old Maverick is watching the young guns doing similar stuff he and his friends did in that academy. In fact, that awkward moment where Maverick realizes that Charlie is actually an instructor also gets a recreation in this sequel. But luckily, the “tribute” stops after almost half an hour of familiarization, and the internal conflict between Maverick and Goose’s son Bradley aka Rooster takes center stage. When I thought the whole movie would linger around the emotional conflict for far too long, Joseph Kosinski squeezes out the box office material from the idea through some well-edited, breathtaking set pieces.
As the trainer with hefty emotional baggage, Tom Cruise shines. It wasn’t that role where his swagger and aviation pilot license were the only requirements. There are emotional sequences in between that do help us understand those 36 years of Maverick. Miles Teller also gets to be this furious and vulnerable Rooster, and the performance was excellent. The beautiful Jenniffer Connelly is there as Jenny. Glen Powell’s Hangman would remind us of Val Kilmer’s Iceman, and Kilmer reprised his role, and that scene was a neatly done fan service. Jon Hamm, Monica Barbaro, Greg Tarzan Davis, Lewis Pullman, etc., are also there in the long list of cast members.
The script uses the foundation set by the first film to explore new areas. The changes in Maverick’s attitude as he is old now help the film have a different tone. Only when he is flying those machines does the disobedient version pop out. The screenplay neatly creates moments that depict Maverick’s wish to be a father figure for Rooster. And like I said, Kosinski shifts the gear swiftly and smoothly in the last quarter with set pieces and “Tom Cruise” moments that the theatrical experience became thoroughly enjoyable. Claudio Miranda maintains that silhouette sepia tone of the franchise, yet he emphasizes giving a far more realistic visual experience. The cuts gave us a clear picture of the attack in those last portions, and that slightly odd placement of the original background score felt really interesting.
Top Gun: Maverick is, without a doubt, a very superior sequel. It has excellent set pieces, solid conflict, and a perfect blend of those two. Predictability and familiarity are not really affecting the narrative, as the restructured mold explores a more profound and personal side of the characters.
Predictability and familiarity are not really affecting the narrative, as the restructured mold explores a more profound and personal side of the characters.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended