"Top Gun: Maverick" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Thirty-six years ago, audiences around the world were introduced to Tom Cruise, who played Maverick in the classic film, "Top Gun". From there, Cruise's career took off, with him starring in action films like "Mission: Impossible" and "Edge of Tomorrow", to dramas such as Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" and Barry Levinson's "Rain Man". So, when a sequel to his breakout film was announced, fans were obviously very excited and ready to see Maverick back in action. However, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, it forced the film to push its release date back two years, causing fans to grow impatient for this movie. Yet, this film was definitely worth the wait, and is not only the best film of the year so far, but perhaps one of the best movies in at least the past five years.
The movie opens in present time, showing where Maverick is years after the events of the first film. He is trying out new planes, which usually get him and his team in trouble. However, America is implementing new AI driven planes, forcing pilots to go obsolete, making Maverick the leader of this dying breed. When he won't leave the Navy, they decide to send him back to Top Gun as an instructor to teach the best pilots to carry out a mission that seems almost impossible.
He reluctantly agrees, but then realizes that his late partner, Goose's, son is in his class. Going by the call sing of Rooster (Miles Teller), he is hellbent on proving that he can achieve the goals his father was unable to. By causing a rift between him and Maverick, it makes the latter's job much harder, by trying to keep his best friend's son safe while also wanting him to achieve his dreams and not hold him back.
From start to finish, this movie keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat, makes their heart drop and beat out of their chest at the same time, makes them cry and laugh, and so much more. This movie is perhaps one of the the first Tom Cruise movie that makes you feel all of these emotions wrapped into one. The story and the writing is impeccable, and makes both new and old fans of this series love the entire journey this movie takes them on.
Maverick is a much better character in this film than he was in its predecessor. In the first film, he was cocky and arrogant, which is a representative of how Cruise is actually like in real life. But this movie shows how Maverick has grown up and changed as a person, turning him into someone who actually cares about people other than himself. In addition to Cruise returning for this sequel, Val Kilmer returns in a brief cameo as Iceman, whose speech is limited due to the actor's lung cancer diagnosis.
Among the new characters, Teller and Jennifer Connelly are the standouts. Connelly plays Penny Benjamin, who was a former flame of Maverick's sometime during the first and second film. Even though we never really see their relationship play out, we easily fall in love with their relationship and the scenes they share with one another. Her and Cruise have amazing chemistry together. Consider the scene where they are going to be intimate with one another. Instead of the average sex scene that is present in many other films, this shows nothing sexual, but rather the intimacy of both the characters. It shows them laughing and being in love with one another, rather than the actual physical act.
Teller, on the other hand, is perfect in this role. It seems like he kind of dropped off ever since the fame he received in "Whiplash" and the "Divergent" series, but he returns hot and heavy in this film, giving perhaps his best performance. He has the charm of Anthony Edward's performance as Goose in the original, but Teller is able to make this role his own and add his own flair to it as a whole. He is excellent alongside Cruise and some of the best scenes in this film involve just them two.
At the same time, they do introduce a cast of characters that are very well, including a woman pilot who has a major pivotal role in this movie. Not only does this film focus on the main stars, but is able to make the side characters lovable and memorable as the end credits roll. Consider how the first film didn't really contain much of a story and then compare it to this new sequel. You can definitely see a major improvement and how the filmmakers were able to fix things they did wrong in the original movie.
Overall, I did have some doubts and reservations going into this movie, but it completely blew them out of the water. I was left feeling satisfied and overjoyed about how good this film was, and left the theater with a huge grin on my face. This is a representation of great cinema, and it's always a joy to see a long awaited film be so good. This is definitely the best film this year so far, and I can't see any other film topping it in my opinion.