Top Gun: Maverick - a wonderful, old-fashioned blockbuster.
4 out of 5
After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of TOP GUN graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.”
Apart from films such as Rain Man (1989), Tom Cruise has been a classic alpha-male throughout his film career. Back in 1986, a 24-year-old Cruise in his iconic patch-emblazoned leather jacket and Aviator sunglasses gave us some cult cinematic moments in Top Gun. That film catapulted him to superstardom. Be it him racing against fighter jets on his superbike, playing sexy shirtless beach volleyball or making a fairly headstrong lady fall for him through his notorious charm, arrogance and reckless (flying) skill… Cruise’s testosterone-fuelled Top Gun was a heady mix of cocky heroism, heart-warming friendship, hot romance and rivalry.
Thirty-five years later, when superhero movies are dominating the big screen, Tom Cruise, 59, dares to bring old school heroism back in a worthy sequel that’s high on redemption and thrill. While he retains the oomph of the original, the franchise ages gracefully as wisdom and consequences of death challenge the carefree courage of youth.
In Top Gun, an inquiry cleared Maverick of responsibility for his friend Goose’s death, however, in Top Gun: Maverick we see that the burden of guilt lies heavy on him and training Rooster (Goose's son) offers Maverick a chance for redemption. Ageing deprives one the privilege of making rash decisions and it’s interesting to see a 60 something hero tackling the ghosts of his past, face professional stagnation and the reality of choosing to be a loner.
Director Joseph Kosinski’s film sticks to the flashy, unabashed bravado of the original while raising the emotional stakes and spectacular aerial stunts. “I am a fighter pilot. I am into naval aviation. This is not what I do. This is who I am.” These lines, though attributed to Maverick, resonate with Tom Cruise and his need for speed. The adrenaline junkie in him has lived vicariously through his screen characters over the years and Top Gun is his pet project. The effort to get every little detail about the aerial stunts right is outstanding and the sound and visuals accentuate that intent.
Val Kilmer in a special appearance (as Iceman) takes you back in time. Jennifer Connelly as Maverick’s on-off love interest Penny is interesting, but Kelly McGillis and her push-pull chemistry with Cruise is sorely missed. Despite the hype, Top Gun: Maverick's theme song 'Hold My Hand' (by Lady Gaga) doesn’t match up to the sensual love anthem of decades — Take My Breath Away. A one-man show, Cruise ensures the attention is on him and him alone, understandably so.
The film isn’t flawless and has its share of far fetched moments but it is everything you’d expect from a Top Gun sequel. It has just the right amount of nostalgia, drama and nail biting action to make it worthy of theatrical viewing. Go see it on the biggest. loudest screen you can find!