Somehow, After All These Years, Top Gun: Maverick Works!

Pamela Connellan
on 1 June 2022

Top Gun: Maverick is out in cinemas now and even though this film has arrived more than three decades after the original Top Gun movie, it somehow still makes sense and doesn’t seem too out-of-date or irrelevant – and let’s face it that could have happened so easily.

Not only is the film making sense, it took $248m (£196m) worldwide last weekend when it opened and that makes it the fourth biggest opening since the pandemic began. The ‘Tom Cruise’ factor has to be taken into account because – as a producer on the film – he didn’t agree to make this sequel one to give us all ‘sequel-itis’.

As well, he didn’t agree for the movie to be streamed on any platform so it means you have to go to a cinema and enjoy two hours of flying fast jets on the big screen – and hey, we’ve got to say – this just works! Who knew it was so much fun to watch people fly around on jets on a huge screen – with chairs that vibrate and high-quality sound?

As well, Cruise didn’t agree to make do with computer-generated imagery (CGI) and a large percentage of the flying scenes in Top Gun: Maverick are actually filmed in planes and jets – something that may not happen again for a long time many reviewers are saying.

Cruise is famous for performing his own stunts and he insisted all the actors portraying pilots on Top Gun: Maverick, fly in one of the fighter jets built by Boeing Co so they could understand what it feels like to be a pilot operating under the strain of immense gravitational forces.

Reviewers are praising the film say it’s “so much better than expected” and some have even gone so far as to say it’s “the best Tom Cruise movie ever!”

We’d have to say it is eminently watchable and probably better than the original Top Gun which is high praise for a sequel which comes more than 30 years after the first film – seeing as Top Gun was released in 1986.

Cruise ended up flying more than a dozen sorties for the new movie, but a Pentagon regulation does stop non-military personnel from controlling a Defense Department asset other than small arms in training scenarios, according to Glen Roberts, the chief of the Pentagon’s entertainment media office. So, instead, the actors rode behind F/A-18 pilots after completing required training on how to eject from the plane in an emergency and how to survive at sea.

The story follows Maverick as he is called in to train the top pilots for a dangerous mission. It’s complicated because one of the trainee pilots is Goose’s son. Here’s where the story of the movie kicks in – because one of the trainee pilots is Rooster – Goose’s son – and Maverick (who still blames himself) doesn’t want to be responsible for history repeating itself. So this puts Maverick in a difficult situation and how they resolve it is all part of it.

Top Gun
Monica Barbaro plays a female trainee pilot in the top group of young guns which Maverick is asked to train for a dangerous mission.

Thankfully, one of the trainee pilots is female (played by Monica Barbaro) and yes, we are spared a lot of the male bonding antics of the first movie. This is probably because the director, Kosinski, seems to understand the kind of movie he was making and the tone strikes a fine balance between good-humored vanity and some self-deprecation.

There’s a nod to Top Gun’s original sun-drenched beach volleyball scene with another one as the team of trainee pilots bond with Maverick. Jennifer Connelly plays Maverick’s love interest and let’s say – she’s no pushover. In a nice scene she shows Maverick how to sail a boat and she’s definitely the one in charge.

There’s another subtle connection with the original movie where Maverick goes to talk with ‘Ice Man’ – played by actor, Val Kilmer, who’s now struggling with health issues. Again it was Cruise who said Ice Man had to be in the film and this scene is done well and fits in with the overall theme of the film.

We’d have to acknowledge Cruise’s acting seems much more in touch now. He was never a bad actor but his work in many different films over the years such as Born on the Fourth of July and Magnolia, seem to have paid off and he’s a joy to watch here – no overacting thank goodness.

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