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Worth a Watch? – Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

(c) Paramount Pictures. Video courtesy of Youtube.

It’s a well-known fact that there are some specific mannerisms that famous actors seem to carry with them regardless of the roles they’re playing.

Brad Pitt eats, Tom Hanks urinates, and Harrison Ford does the equivalent of signing “you motherfucker” with a single glorious finger. Then there’s Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise is a special case, not just because of his belief in the “church” of Scientology.

Now, the story of the ancient space alien known as Xenu bringing billions of people to Earth in spacecraft that looked like commercial airliners, placing them around volcanoes and then detonating hydrogen bombs in the volcanoes and causing mysterious invisible particles to attach themselves to people’s bodies is so airtight, I’m not even going to begin to question it.

Regardless of how you feel about L Ron Hubbard’s pet project, you’ve got to admit it’s provided us with some great Tom Cruise movie moments over the years. Not only does he do all his own running and his own motorcycling, but he also does his own stunts. The list is long and the longer it goes on feels more like an excuse for Cruise to test the limits of his godhood. He’s free-climbed mountains, flown helicopters, strapped himself to planes and in the case of the Top Gun: Maverick flying fighter jets in intense aerial stunts.

Yes, the best navy recruitment tool is back with a sequel to the 1986 original Top Gun in Top Gun: Maverick. This movie has been in the works allegedly since 2010 when Paramount Pictures first approached Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott. It was slated to be released back in 2019 but was delayed multiple times due to complex action sequences and the COVID-19 pandemic. Fear not though the movie’s finally here and we can experience it from the comfort of our homes via stream- no, no we can’t as Cruise insisted that the movie be released exclusively in cinemas.

Over thirty years after graduating from the TOPGUN academy, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is currently a test pilot for the United States Navy – repeated insubordination has kept him from flag rank despite earning many honours and commendations. After pushing his “Darkstar” scramjet into high-hypersonic speed accomplishing the program’s goal only to have the prototype destroyed when Maverick pushes it past Mach 10.

His scramjet project cancelled by the higher-ups, Maverick is called up by his friend and former TOPGUN rival Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) to come back to the academy. He’s not here to lead missions as he did in the old days. No, he’s here to teach the next generation of pilots to do the impossible; fly through a tight canyon avoiding SAM fire, destroy an underground nuclear reactor, perform a 9G bank manoeuvre and dog fight superior enemy aircraft the entire way home.

The rest of this review is full of spoilers so if you don’t want the film ruined for you here’s the summary of Top Gun: Maverick; it’s the best type of sequel, one that uses the original as a springboard to reach new heights and builds upon the original’s solid foundation. Top Gun: Maverick is one of the best films of 2022 so far.

Maverick’s teaching style isn’t exactly traditional. He out-dogfights his students in record time, one of whom is the son of his late best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw – Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller). Maverick and Rooster clash throughout the movie however bond once they are forced to fly together on this impossible mission.

Unsurprisingly, they manage to survive without either of them dying because that would be too much of a dampener for a summer blockbuster. The movie closes with Maverick and Rooster working on planes together as the camera pans over the photo of their mission’s success along with a photo of Goose and a younger Maverick.

Now, let’s not mince words here. Tom Cruise makes this movie what it is. Not just because he’s the main star but also because he’s one of the main producers and driving force behind getting this movie made at all. He slips back into the role of Maverick almost effortlessly and he’s a joy to watch.

Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, and the rest of the supporting cast do a great job and I couldn’t single anyone out as being a weak link. Special mention does have to go to Miles Teller and Jennifer Connelly as they form the real emotional centre of the film instead of Tom Cruise.

There’s also a beach gridiron scene that rivals both the style and pandering of the original’s beach volleyball scene which must be seen to be believed. Action-wise, apart from the beach gridiron, we’ve got the Tom Cruise staples of him running and riding a motorcycle and now we’ve got Tom Cruise subjecting his body to incredible g-forces for our entertainment. Cruise impressively coordinated and flew all the air stunts himself while working with the stunt team and it’s my favourite part of the movie.

The original Top Gun movie was a lot of fun but the choreography and the action set pieces weren’t the main focus of the cast and crew and it definitely shows watching the original in 2022. However, Top Gun: Maverick doesn’t have that same problem. The action scenes for this movie are intense, incredibly enjoyable and the entire time I was watching, I didn’t think about the cinematography or acting once I was drawn in that much by the action.

In terms of the soundtrack, apart from the iconic “Danger Zone” by the late Kenny Loggins, there weren’t any songs that clicked for me or ones that I can even recall without having to look it up on Wikipedia but then this movie isn’t going to live or die on its soundtrack when there’s Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly killing it onscreen together with some palpable chemistry that’s almost as good as that between Tom Cruise and his aeroplane.

Have you seen Top Gun: Maverick? Did you want to see more beach gridiron? Let me know your thoughts down below.


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