After more than 30 years as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. Training a detachment of graduates for a special assignment, Maverick must confront the ghosts of his past and his deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who choose to fly it.
Directed by: #JosephKosinski
Starring: #TomCruise #MilesTeller #JenniferConnelly #JonHamm #GlenPowell #LewisPullman #EdHarris #ValKilmer
Released: 27th May 2022
Film review by: Ahmed Abbas | Published: 25th May 2022
It was only two months ago when a friend of mine approached me, raving about the new Top Gun movie finally releasing in May. At this point, I had not seen the original film, but was familiar with it, having noted references to it time and time again in popular culture. With its cult classic reputation and the sequel imminent, I decided it was finally time to set foot in the Top Gun franchise.
With the rising trend of sequels being made to decades-old releases, there is a common trap of said sequel behaving less like a follow-up and more like a remake, repeating the story and shifting the original lead character in the mentor role. Plenty of recent sequels are guilty of succumbing to this oversight. Despite its plenty of call-backs to the original 1986 film, Top Gun: Maverick is not one of them. The film makes standout use of characters from the original. For example, Maverick (Tom Cruise), the title character from the first, is not reduced to a mentor role that watches from the side-lines as the new characters fill his role, he remains the lead in the sequel, while new characters are still introduced and given plenty to do.
Nearly four decades later, none of the characters are left the same. Time has passed and everyone’s lives have moved on – the film remembers this and uses it to its advantage, evolving relationships between characters, such as that of Maverick and Rooster (Miles Teller). This is a bond that takes centre stage and is a phenomenal, tear-jerking journey throughout – forget fighter jets, this reunion of the pair is the movie’s core story.
Miles Teller reminds the world why he is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors
One of the newly introduced characters is Penny (Jennifer Connelly), Maverick’s love interest. Penny replaces Charlotte, the romantic interest from the 1986 original, and does so without explanation. While their relationship has touching moments, I did find the chemistry in the first film to be noticeably stronger and felt their relationship could have been tied to the main story in a more meaningful way. Having later learned that a relationship with Penny was mentioned in a line from the original, it may have worked in the film’s favour to refer to this romance in a flashback, making their reunion all the more momentous.
The film takes great advantage of its newly developed miniature IMAX cameras, filming inside the jets in order for the viewers to genuinely feel trapped inside the claustrophobic cockpit moving at Mach 10 – this makes it a must for IMAX viewing. At no point in the movie did I question whether anything was computer-generated or green-screened, which is rare of an action feature of this calibre. Having later read that Tom Cruise (who also served as a producer) fought for there to be no green screen in the sequel is no surprise, with various behind-the-scenes clips displaying how much was shot practically.
The labour applied to Top Gun: Maverick is to be respected, as most blockbusters would opt to recreate these scenes digitally. Researching all of this only highlights the care put into the movie, and the filmmakers’ efforts are certainly reflected on screen. This allows for action scenes better choreographed and easier to follow than the first, with the authentically filmed cockpit scenes accentuating actor emotion, raising the tension of the scenes.
Despite the iconography of its predecessor, Top Gun: Maverick is one of the few sequels to improve on the original in almost every respect and is a feature worth the wait. The film understands what the fans want – a continuation of Maverick’s story, with him still as the focus, while showing how his relationships have evolved 36 years later. Mark my words: Top Gun: Maverick will become the template that sequels follow in the future.
This wasn’t a film I would have taken an interest in beforehand but is an unexpected delight that will surely earn it status as one of the cinematic highlights of 2022. I had avoided reading the duration of the film prior to seeing it and was very surprised to find out the runtime was 137 minutes. The film breezed right past; it felt like a breath of fresh air in movie form. With a high number of media screenings and an embargo lifting weeks before release (a rare feat), Paramount show their hand, revealing their utmost confidence in the film’s quality; I can safely say their boldness is not misplaced.
Kosinski and co make a statement, demonstrating to filmmakers around the world how a decades-later sequel should be made, delivering a slick, emotional, action-filled romantic family drama that takes your breath away.