Top Gun: Maverick offers a movie that feels like it was made in the 80’s with its music and is as good as the original. But the sequel also has an emotional core that is non-existent in the 1986 movie.
Story: Over 30 years from the events of the first movie, Pete "Maverick" Mitchell is still serving in the Navy as a test pilot. He is soon invited to prepare a team of the best pilots for a mission following the orders of an old friend. Mav soon has to make hard decisions as he has to face the son of his long gone best friend, Goose.
Review: Tom Cruise returns as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the sequel to 1986’s Top Gun and it soars high above the sky. The movie, which is tailor made for the Top Gun fans around the world, has everything one expects from a much-anticipated sequel and more. Some might argue that it is better than the original, and they might be right.
For starters, the movie makes use of Tom Cruise’s 36 years of experience as an actor and that is the added bonus of the movie. Top Gun: Maverick is a superior movie with its making and stunts and that had to happen considering the technical advances in filmmaking today. Each frame in the vast desert reminds us of the original, while adding something new to it as well. The movie is able to capture the essence of the 80’s and most of that is down to the music. From the iconic “Danger Zone” to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who, the music comes from a time when the original was set.
Another thing the sequel has over the classic 1986 version, is that it has an emotional core that was not there in the original. The script makes good use of the death of Mav’s Radar Intercept Officer and best friend Nick "Goose" Bradshaw from the original and bringing his now grown up son Lieutenant Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller) to the equation. Mav is stuck between trying to protect him while he would soon have to select him for a dangerous mission.
The movie sees Mav return to Top Gun as an instructor, who has to pick a select few from the best of the best for a high-intensity stealth mission. With three weeks to get them ready, Mav has to find a way to teach them that the mission is achievable while trying to bring them back alive. The training drills with the high-speed machines in the sky would seem like a book from the original, but is taken to the next level with its making. With large scale shots from within the cockpit, the movie takes the audience to the pilots’ seat.
We also understand that Mav has had a relationship with Penelope "Penny" Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) but drifted apart at some point. While the two clearly have feelings for each other, we slowly see them reunite once again, which makes it look like Mav is finally ready to settle down. Still not able to let go of the death of Goose and now having to try and teach and protect his son, Mav has it difficult in Top Gun: Maverick.
Val Kilmer’s Tom "Iceman" Kazansky is now a four-star Admiral who also makes an appearance in the movie. He has been Mav’s guardian angel, helping him stay with the Navy as a test pilot, even after disobeying orders time and time again. Though we get just one scene with Iceman, the movie makes the best use of this. The emotions are evident in both the actors and this translates through the screen to the viewers as well. It would be cruel to call it a cameo, but whatever you want to call it, it is one of the most powerful scenes in the entire movie.
Mav became a beloved character for his high-spirit attitude and inability to follow orders. Well this side of him has clearly been eradicated with time, but we still see that rule breaker in him a few times in the movie, and it's worth it. While the first movie saw him as a man who wouldn’t even stick with his wingman, the sequel does not waste time to tell us that he has changed. “I know what will happen to everyone else” he says in the very first act of the movie, where he flies an aircraft into Mach 10, risking it all.
The final act has a few moments where you hold your breath for answers and watch everything unfold, including a dogfight that points to the quality of the movie. The audience follows the pilots in every frame, but not knowing what comes next. The emotions are at full flow as well, as Tom Cruise navigates a role that asks a few things from him as an actor.
op Gun: Maverick is everything Top Gun fans want in a sequel. There are sound barrier breaking machines, there is one of Cruise’s most iconic characters in full form, and there is a certain ability for it to invoke nostalgia. While one could still argue about which of the two movies are better, there is no doubt that the making and scale of the second movie is superior to the first. While the first sequence brings back old memories from Top Gun, the rest of the movie holds on its own, providing a detailed look into the life of a character we all grew up loving.
On the technical side, the music, the cinematography, the director and the editing all stand out, giving the sequel a certain life that one would expect it to have. And the best part of Top Gun: Maverick is that while there are high-speed airplanes flying around everywhere on your screen, it makes sure that you stay connected to the main characters on the emotional side. This also helps increase the stakes, as you see life and death unfold in front of you.
A lot has changed in Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, but the best features that made him so unforgettable still remain. Tom Cruise rides this and pulls out a clinic, which is there for everyone to see. While the sequel gets things better in terms of the HUD’s and G-force tugging at the faces of the pilots to great effect, the way it has written its characters and the situations still come on top of everything. And this is exactly what makes Top Gun: Maverick possibly a better movie than the original.
Verdict: Top Gun: Maverick is a sequel that could end up being spoken in the same sentence as the likes of The Godfather Part II and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. While the filmmaking takes the viewers right into the world of fast-flying jets, the writing is able to give the movie a certain emotional core that cannot be replaced. A fitting sequel to a movie that still lives in our hearts even after over 30 years. If you are a fan of Top Gun or have even seen it, you don’t want to miss the sequel in theatres.