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Top Gun: Maverick Film Review


Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

Written by: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly



One of the most popular and sometimes mocked 80’s movies of all time, Top Gun, has had a sequel in development for a long time, but it finally entered development properly in the age of the legacy sequel. And in the recent canon of legacy sequels, Maverick is a rare one that manages to be an improvement on it’s prior iconic film.

34 years after Top Gun, Pete “Maverick” Marshall (Tom Cruise) is a captain in the US Air Force. He is asked to command a group of pilots that includes the son of former best friend Nick "Goose" Bradshaw, this being Brad “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), all to complete a deadly mission. He has to prove himself to his superiors and move on from difficult past events, whilst striking up a romance with old flame Penny Marshall (Jennifer Connelly).

There’s been a director change from Tony Scott (R.I.P, stay through the credits for the dedication) to Joseph Kosinski of Tron: Legacy and Only the Brave, and Kosinski helps this transition by opening his film in a very similar fashion. Generally speaking, he does a great job at making it feel like the same world that’s moved on several decades, the production design and cinematography feeling very in tune with that film and just being great on their own. The only flaw is that the first 30 minutes does feel too reminiscent of the beginning of Top Gun, but as the film goes on, that feeling lessens and the film justifies any future call-backs.

The drama has a greater punch and impact than the first film because this one builds upon it and takes the consequences of it seriously. The theme of moving on from the past and making up for it, whilst still proving yourself now. There’s a lovely sentimental feeling that is totally uncynical and the best call-backs are the ones that invoke this feeling the most. As good as the drama with Maverick is, his scene with Iceman is not only the best acted scene of the film but also packs a punch on multiple different levels. The way is Iceman is worked into the narrative is perfect and the way Kilmer is used is honest yet touching.

The narrative is also better overall because there is a better sense of structure, not to mention a good balance between the training narrative and the personal drama. The first film felt like a slice of life romance with dogfighting, but this film makes the air sequences just as important as the dramatic scenes in between, with neither suffering. The final act soars the highest, as whilst it is a little overextended, it manages to be thrilling, intense and satisfying. Even the romance, whilst not hugely important, is decently handled, being sweet and tying into the themes and story well.

The acting and characterisation is good too, as Tom Cruise not only slips back into the role like he never left but brings a new dimension to Maverick. A more desperate, sad yet determined guy that isn’t always happy with his positions in life. Cruise’s role reprisal brims with sincerity. Elsewhere Miles Teller is very convincing as Rooster, selling the resentment and bitterness as well as the eventual trust, and Jennifer Connelly is the most charismatic and fun she has been in a long time.

It's been a good time for legacy sequels and Top Gun: Maverick is among the best. It proves it’s worth by expanding on the first film in dramatically fulfilling ways and is just an enjoyable visual spectacle all around.



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