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Top Gun: Maverick

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

If anyone asks me how long it takes to make the perfect sequel, I’m going to say 36 years from now on. The ultimate blend of nostalgia, homage and summer action flick, TOP GUN: MAVERICK is the best time I’ve had in the theatres since “Skyfall” a decade ago.

Everything about this beautifully shot and carefully made sequel is superior to the original fan favorite.

Tom Cruise is at megastar wattage in his return as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in a vanity free performance. Surrounded by new Top Gun recruits calling him “Pops”, Cruise isn’t playing younger. He knows he’s aging, and the film has plenty to say about that.

NO spoilers here. I intentionally avoided any details about the story before seeing it and wont ruin any surprises for you.

If you’ve seen the previews or not lived under a rock for the past three years, you know that Maverick is back at Top Gun school, teaching a new cocky band of pilots for a dangerous mission through enemy territory.

What the film gets SO right, let’s say perfect, is its introduction of new characters that stand out on their own, including Miles Teller (The Offer, Whiplash) as Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Maverick’s wingman Goose.

Cruise admirably said that he would not make the film without Val Kilmer reprising his role as Iceman and Kilmer does so with a real presence. Kilmer and Cruise have a 5-minute scene in the middle of the film that is so powerful, funny, and dramatic you can’t help but relish two favorite actors going head-to-head. The movie could have ended after that scene, and I would have given it an A.

But it soars in its second half. After detailing the mission in a scene that’s so retro that I didn’t know how much I missed that style, our pilots roar off an aircraft carrier and into one of the most tense, enjoyable action sequences in years.

Jennifer Connelly is superb as Penny Benjamin, Maverick’s former flame that runs the bar next to the airbase. Their past informs the movie with a passion that raises the stakes. Cruise and Connelly have chemistry to burn and it’s really refreshing to see a romantic couple in their 50’s not portrayed as senior citizens ready for a book club & rocking chair.

Jon Hamm has nasty fun as Maverick’s new boss, the Admiral you’ll love to hate.

Charles Parnell is excellent as the counterbalance Admiral cheering for Maverick. Ed Harris has a great scene to open the film and its always great to see him on film, especially in a perfect “Ed Harris” role.

All the young pilots are well played by a stable of young actors, all of whom went through a 3-month boot camp with Cruise to go up in the jet fighters. Glen Powell is a standout as the young Maverick/Han Solo of the crew, Lt. Jake “Hangman” Seresin.

There is very little CGI in the film.

When you see the actors in the jets, that is the actual actor, flying in that jet at those speeds.

Matching Cruise’s incredible and legendary drive to immerse audiences in actual physical events versus a lot of green screen digital effects, the cast went through hell to get these shots.

The actors had to film themselves, doing take after take in the air to get it right.

The payoff is huge.

The music score is excellent, with Lorne Balfe, Harold Faltermeyer and Hans Zimmer contributing to a score that instantly conjures up the original, while Lady Gaga pens a song for the final scene that’s a sure bet to win her another Oscar.

The box office for MAVERICK will fly past a half a billion dollars this weekend worldwide.

It’s a massive credit to our last true action movie star, Tom Cruise that this film is the enormous hit it is. Uncompromising in his demands that this film NOT go to streaming during Covid, Cruise made the studio sit on it until the world could see it on the biggest, loudest screen possible.

We saw it in Dolby Cinema and Cruise is right. You can’t watch this at home and have the same experience.

The audience we saw it with burst into applause more than four times spontaneously, the first time after a pre-show filmed appearance by Cruise thanking the audience for coming to the theatre.

The man is committed.

TOP GUN: MAVERICK is emotional, funny, exciting, heartfelt, and fantastic. What’s better than an A+++? Whatever it is, pin that medal on this perfect summer movie.

My favorite film in ten years, I can’t wait to see it again.

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