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Top Gun: Maverick Review

A sequel that surpasses its ‘classic’ predecessor in every way, with a blend of blockbuster action, stakes, and silliness, that will do all it can to glue your eyes to the screen. 

After 35 years of dodging promotions and flying by the seat of his own pants (literally), captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is summoned back to ‘Top Gun’ by old friend Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky, where he must prepare young hot shot pilots for the future, while coming face to face with his past. 

As Kenny Loggins’ ‘Danger Zone’ plays over a montage akin to the first film, you’d be forgiven for thinking the next two hours of your life would be spent in a nostalgia frenzy, witnessing a rehash of what came before. However, this is different. While Nostalgia might be the fuel that makes it go, this lung-busting legacy sequel hits heights, for my money, that the original just couldn’t. Starting with those all-important flight scenes. 

What I really just want to say is ‘planes go vroom, it’s very cool’ (and it really is), but what Cruise and director Joseph Kosanski (“Tron: Legacy”) have crafted here are jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring set-pieces, with every actor in the cockpit, and every reaction authentic. Cruise himself has mentioned how he needed each actor to be comfortable enough to work the camera in the sky, let alone feeling comfortable enough being thrashed around a fighter jet, and encountering Zero-G, and the work put in makes for mind-boggling sequences, unlike any blockbuster in recent memory, save Cruise’s own “Mission Impossible: Fallout”, and there’s no coincidence there. 

The dogfighting sequences will have your head in a spin as you leave the cinema, feeling like you’ve been placed in the cockpit. Think walking out of “Cloverfield” feeling like your face is a camera, it’s that immersive blockbuster experience on another level.

There is quite clearly no one with a nose for these breakneck sequences like Cruise, his recent run has seen him manage to meld the sublime and the ridiculous perfectly, and that’s in plot as well as in action (Vin Diesel take notes).  

One thing it certainly does have in common with its predecessor, is its blistering self-awareness of how silly and crazy it is, sprinkling the right amount of cheese across its high-octane action, while letting a relatively compelling story take place on land as well as in the air. 

Miles Teller (“Whiplash”) is a welcome addition as ‘Rooster’ (son of Maverick’s former wingman ‘Goose’ who tragically meets his end in the first film) and who sports a similar moustache, while the majority of the new recruits are given good work to do, and a reason for being, none more so than Glen Powell (“Everybody Wants Some”) who is quite clearly having the most fun of anyone on screen as the cocky antagonist ‘Hangman”, and who deserves a career of the status of Teller and then some. 

Not giving more to Monica Barbaro’s “Phoenix” is one of the rare misses for the film, and now a franchise still not entirely sure on what to do with its female characters. Jennifer Connolly’s ‘Penny’ is mainly used a soundboard for Maverick. 

The film does however manage a lovely tribute to Val Kilmer’s real-life struggles, a scene that may leave even the toughest “Top Gun” fan misty eyed. 

And while the films emotional cruxes are completely believable, mainly Maverick’s frosty relationship with Rooster, and even see Cruise hit emotional acting depths we’ve not seen for a while, they operate only as a supporting organ to the films beating heart, those sequences in the sky.

Not to borrow from the loud IMAX advert you’ll see before the film (absolutely see this in IMAX btw) but Cruise and Kosanski really will take you from “A pin drop, to the thunder of a jet engine’ shifting effortlessly from elegant to ferocious, especially the rip-roaring third act that will leave you clinging to your chair. 


It’s raucous, feel good, fun, and everyone buys in. Immersive, escapist popcorn cinema, and the film equivalent to an Andy Murray fist-pump. 

And that’s even before Tom Cruise starts running.