TOP GUN: MAVERICK (2022)
A sequel that surpasses the first film in every way, Top Gun: Maverick is a thrilling feat of exemplary filmmaking and perhaps Tom Cruise’s finest performance.
Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) is sent to train a set of the best Top Gun graduates out there for a dangerous mission, stirring up old feelings while confronting him with his toughest task yet. One of my biggest knocks of the first Top Gun is that there just isn’t much of a plot there; the film relies on abs and action for an ‘80s cheese-fest that thrives on little more than nostalgia and the enthusiasm of the actors. Top Gun: Maverick does quite the opposite, engaging audiences in a smart continuation of the 30+ year old story that balances connections to the past with new hurdles. Cruise’s contemplative performance when it comes to his interactions with Miles Teller’s Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (“Rooster”), the son of his late friend Goose, is palpable and chill-inducing. Teller is a worthy opposite, capturing the spirit of Goose and making it his own. His scenes with Cruise are emotionally tumultuous and utterly engrossing. In fact, it’s the performances that truly make Top Gun: Maverick fly, from Glen Powell to Jennifer Connelly, Jon Ham to Monica Barbaro. There isn’t a weak link present.
The action comes at you with breakneck speed, director Joseph Kosinski taking the audience into the cockpits, into the skies, and feeling as though we’re in the pilots’ seats. There is a ton of it, rightfully so, delivered with effects that make the first film look like a film school project. I had literal goosebumps for the majority of the film, thanks in no small part to the use of familiar music and sound mixing with an updated soundtrack that drives the feels (Lady Gaga brings it home).
What is most impressive is how Top Gun: Maverick has it all, from the emotional arc to the unrivaled action, but never forces any aspect; it all works seamlessly together, even the romantic subplot. I laughed, I cried (both out of joy and sadness), and I had one of the best cinematic experiences of my life.
Top Gun: Maverick will go down as one of the best films ever made.
Top Gun: Maverick hits theaters Friday.
Photo from CBR