Adrenaline rush. Midair sequences. Dogfights. Aerial chases. Emotional dazzle. Cool aviator glasses. And the timeless blinding charisma of Tom Cruise. All these make “Top Gun: Maverick” soar rapturously to a thrilling hoot.
Nearly 36 years since the “Top Gun” star took the cinematic action world by storm in the original classic, Cruise is once again poised to take the Gen Xers’ breath away in the long-awaited sequel. For sure, nostalgia reigns supreme in “Maverick,” especially when we see that the ageless actor, who turns 60 this July, still amazes with the same unrelenting mojo he possessed in the 1986 “Top Gun.”
Slated for a 2019 theatrical release, the new film was delayed due to pandemic and production reasons. Fortunately, Paramount made a sound decision not to release it directly to its streaming platform, as “Maverick” is best seen on the big silver screen. In fact, movie fans need see it in an IMAX theater to experience the ultimate visceral thrills. No doubt, you would be in absolute awe.
This time around, the iconic action star returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a top aviator, who — unfortunately, despite a long list of his military accolades — has not risen through the ranks any higher than a Navy captain. Why? He has remained fearless and disruptive, sidestepping orders and disrespecting authority much in the last three decades of his career.
Tom Cruise (from left), Jennifer Connelly, and Miles Teller attend the Global Premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick.” (Paramount Pictures)
Case in point: We first see a defiant Maverick as he tries to push the boundaries of gravity when his commanders abruptly terminated his program as a test pilot. Much to his chagrin, he will now assume his new responsibility as a flight instructor at San Diego’s Top Gun academy.
From there, he gets his marching orders from his new commander (Jon Hamm). Assigned to train young aviators for a perilous mission, his main task is to find the best of the best from these young flyboys. But Maverick soon learns that fate can be so cruel at times, especially when one of the Top Gun aviators turns out to be Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late wingman Goose.
Glen Powell (from left), Monica Barbaro, Danny Ramirez, Jay Ellis, Lyliana Wray, Bashir Salahuddin, Miles Teller, Charles Parnell, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, Jake Picking, Tom Cruise, Lewis Pullman, Jean Louisa Kelly, Greg Tarzan Davis, Kara Wang, Raymond Lee, Jack Schumacher and Manny Jacinto attend the Global Premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick” on May 04, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Paramount Pictures)
Certainly, our action hero and the young man are headed toward a collision course. Not only does Maverick now have to be reminded of Goose’s death, but he also must now deal with his kid’s agonizing loss.
Brief as it is, Maverick’s visit with Iceman (Val Kilmer) — who appeared in the first film — is poignant and emotional, leaving an indelible impression on us all about Kilmer’s courageous battle with throat cancer.
Cruise reunites with his “Oblivion” director, Joseph Kosinski, who has managed to make us all feel the G-force rush with nonstop tension in aerial acrobatic sequences. Those camera angles really work their wonders.
Oh, let’s not forget. Maverick has a love interest in the movie. His old flame (Jennifer Connelly) also shows up with a twist.
All in all, “Maverick” is absolutely a must-see film — on the biggest screen, of course.