'Top Gun: Maverick' Loop-the-Loops Around the Original

Starring Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer
'Top Gun: Maverick' Loop-the-Loops Around the Original
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In Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise takes to the skies once again and pushes the limits of what a blockbuster can be, giving audiences a front seat in the cockpit to witness the adrenaline-pumping action firsthand. The cast actually pilot the planes in flight sequences to capture real scenes and aerial footage, instead of relying CGI. The result is spectacular, more than fulfilling the anticipation for this long-awaited blockbuster.

Director Joseph Kosinski's Top Gun: Maverick is a sequel to the 1986 film by Tony Scott. Cruise returns as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, who now works as a test pilot. In a fast-paced opening action sequence, he takes an experimental jet past Mach 10, acting against his admiral's orders and pushing the limits in classic Maverick fashion. 

Maverick is called back to the Top Gun academy and he pulls out his OG jacket and hops on his motorcycle, sunglasses in check as he rides into the sunset (with the iconic score no less), expecting to take on another mission that will allow him to soar to new heights. 

Instead, he is called upon to train a group of young pilots — who are among the best in their ranks — for a dangerous mission. His ego is visibly hurt, but he powers through and teaches the young birds to fly, so to speak. Among the young pilots is Bradley a.k.a. Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick's late best friend Goose. This creates some tension between the two, and the film works through their fractured past while fleshing out some emotional beats.  

Everything in this film is top-notch and consistent with what audiences have come to expect from Cruise films recent years. The high-octane action is delivered with ambitious dogfight aerial stunts that are jaw-dropping and, at times, anxiety-ridden. The fact that these effortless scenes were done in real-time and in front of a green screen makes it all the more authentic, as the film captures the impact of those gravity-defying stunts on the actors. As a result, the emotional and dramatic stakes are raised, truly leaving viewers at the edge of their seats.   

The beautifully shot cinematography by Claudio Miranda is astounding and stays with you long after the film ends, as does the return of the iconic original score. Lady Gaga's "Hold My Hand" also comes at the perfect moment to carry out the end of the film.  

Despite the excellent visuals and music, Top Gun: Maverick is ultimately the Tom Cruise show. He anchors the film and takes it to the next level, due to both his acting range and his off-screen role as a producer. His love for danger and "need for speed" is seen in spades. At 59, his stunts are seemingly even more intense than they were in his younger days, and he effortlessly delivers witty, charming one-liners.

For fans who remember the original film from three decades ago, there's a healthy dose of nostalgia — from a rather sexy beach scene with the shirtless pilots to Rooster singing "Great Balls of Fire" on the piano, just like his father once did. There's an iconic cameo by Val Kilmer, who has lost his voice due to throat cancer but returns as Iceman in a brief but crucial scene.  

Sequels rarely tend to outperform the original, but in this case, Top Gun: Maverick exceeds in every department using the gift of technology and the intensity of Tom Cruise to deliver a blockbuster landing.   (Paramount)