36 years is a very long time to revisit cinema’s most expensive Navy recruitment video. Top Gun has its own corner in cinema history, much like any beloved solo classic, it was a product of its time and a massive undertaken in terms of elevating action to a level we hadn’t seen the likes of before. It seemed then that Top Gun was one of those films with a big “Do Not Touch” sticker on it, but here we are with Top Gun: Maverick. This film had a pretty big manoeuvre to pull off winning the hearts of those who hold Top Gun close, which it does in spectacular style.
What is the backbone of Top Gun: Maverick being so entertaining? Why the planes of course. The first Top Gun was an achievement in itself to capture real F-14s engaging in high octane dogfights, but Top Gun: Maverick takes this level of action to a higher level. That level of believability in the dogfighting was something I was convinced that it was here that this film would lose a bit of magic of the first Top Gun, but here the film is much more daring in how close cut it is willing to get to bring the action audiences crave for. I thought it was absolutely astonishing to see the maneuverer these fighter jets were pulling off, it will make you feel like you are in the cockpit with these characters. I think Top Gun: Maverick, with this kind of action, justifies the existence of gimmick cinema, like 4DX, Screen X, etcetera.
Of course, we could never feel the action of the fighter jets if the cinematography wasn’t on point. This is where the film really shines, but even in scenes with no aviation at all, it is still a beautiful film visually. There is a massive colour palette from the many, many varieties of locations for these aviators to fly around in their expensive toys. In scenes that are more personal, the shallow depth of field reminds you that this isn’t just a film about pilots doing incredible stunts with fighter jets, this is very much a character-driven film that nosedives into emotion and conflict, with most of it, of course, looking into Maverick (Tom Cruise).
Speaking of said adrenaline junkie, Tom Cruise does not disappoint. In the 36 years since the events of Top Gun, Maverick still hasn’t gotten over the loss of his wingman Goose, the film insists that we explore this behind the character’s independent-minded personality. This journey to get over the loss of Goose comes mostly in the relationship between himself and Rooster (Miles Teller), Goose’s son. On the character side of the film, this bad blood between the two works the most out of any other character relationship because both Cruise and Teller give a performance that highlights the bad blood between the two. But the happiest appearance of the film is Val Kilmer as Iceman. Considering Kilmer’s medical condition, this just shows how much of a sport he is appearing in this film and, if you’ve been reading the behind the scenes making of this film, how incredible AI in cinema can be beautiful when done correctly.
There are a lot of strong bonds that work amazingly well and seeing them develop, as much as I wouldn’t like to admit, tug at the heartstrings. However, there are some character relationships that don’t work as well. For instance, you have this “will they won’t they” romantic relationship between Maverick and Penny (Jennifer Connelly), a bar owner and ex-girlfriend of Maverick. Despite Jennifer Connelly giving a good performance, It feels as though this romance wasn’t as important to the exploration of Maverick’s character struggles, it just felt as though the writers needed some sort of romantic interest in the film so they plucked a character that was briefly mentioned in the original Top Gun and put her in this film.
The recruits are entertaining for the roles they play in the film, I actually really liked Hangman (Glen Powell) as this overconfident, conceited pilot who thinks he’s better than anyone else because he’s the only one who has shot down an enemy aircraft. I really liked how his ego takes over the screen, but in reality, I can’t be too excited by this because when you get down to it, that’s all these new recruits are, big egos. I’d say aside from Bob (Lewis Pullman) there’s not much personality-wise that separates the different recruits from each other.
Top Gun: Maverick is a film that must be watched on the biggest screen. If you can watch it in 4DX, even better. I don’t think even the filmmakers would have it any other way either. This film takes fun entertainment to new heights, quite literally. I’m in awe of how the filmmakers were able to coordinate some of the best dogfights I’ve seen on the big screen, some of these stunts just boggle the mind. I was expecting some level of fun with Top Gun: Maverick, but I never expected that a film could be fun and also pretty emotional. It is that good balance of great characters and great action that is normally tipped one way or the other. Considering how a lot of this film was done practically, it will literally take your breath away.
Final Result 9/10 – Excellent
Have you seen Top Gun: Maverick? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Men