Top Gun sits in that sweet spot of nostalgia and 80s cult happiness. It’s a movie that made every kid want to fly a frigging F-14A Tomcat. I still do… And man, I was dubious about a sequel. But… Top Gun: Maverik is superb. It’s stunning to look at, well acted, and worthy of the Top Gun mantel. It’s also better than the first. There, I said it!
I have to admit, I haven’t seen the first film in years, something I now want to remedy. But Top Gun: Maverik brings a lot of what I remember about the fist movie back again. There are whole scenes that are nods to the first movie. The bar scene, though it doesn’t get as physical. The training bit where things go to shit. The constant threat of court martial by Jon Hamm’s Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson. Maverik is still walking a tight line between ace pilot and ‘you’re too risky!’
Director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) does a very good job of balancing awesome training sessions with some serious heart. There are a few scenes that had my eyes swelling up that were not only emotional, but also very tastefully done. I have to mention the scene with Val ‘Iceman’ Kilmer. He petitioned on his Facebook years ago to be brought back, and of course they did. However, the actor has suffered illness, namely throat cancer, that has left him unable to speak without a computer, so his role is minor. But his brief cameo is worth it, and a fitting nod to the end of an iconic character. No YOU’RE crying!
Of course Tom Cruise is amazing in Top Gun: Maverik. The fact that he actually got to fly jets for this film just adds to the crazy scientologist’s impressive resume of stunts. He also puts in a performance that is one of his best. And bloody hell does he look good. He’s 59 year old yet has a body that matches up to his costars, who are all 30 years his junior! Which brings me to some of the other actors. Miles Teller is Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, sone of downed pilot Goose. He also has a terrible moustache, just like his dad did.
Firstly, Teller is a superb actor. I haven’t seen him in anything where he wasn’t good. His best is still Whiplash though. He does a great job as the angry son who still holds a grudge against Maverik for ‘allowing’ his wingman dad to die. There’s also another reason but spoilers.
Others to note, not that they get much screen time, are Jennifer Connelly as Penelope “Penny” Benjamin, who plays Maverik’s love interest. There are some real tender moments between the two, and some rather funny ones between her daughter and Maverik. Monica Barbaro as Lieutenant Natasha “Phoenix” Trace and Glen Powell as Lieutenant Jake “Hangman” Seresin are also great. But the best thing about this movie are the jet fighters!
I was worried that we’d get 15 minutes of flight time, and 2 hours of drama. Nope, don’t worry. The last act is one long action beat. It’s superb. Basically they have to train for a dangerous mission, a mission that requires 2 miracles. It’s also a mission against an unidentified enemy, though the nature of the mission hints at Iran, it’s never explicitly stated.
Top Gun Miracles
Miracle number 1 is flying in a canyon to avoid radar. It requires the team of 4 fighter jets to then scale a mountain, drop down into a valley. Miracle 2 is to pop a bomb into a bunker, and then vertically ascend at 10gs to avoid smashing into said mountain. This is a brilliantly shot sequence that had my palms sweaty and heart beating like a fucked clock. It was so god damn fun! Dog fights, missiles, and my favourite F-14A Tomcat!
Making the visuals pop is the music. And most of it is perfect. A mix of 80s classics with Hans Zimmer, Lady Gaga and yes, “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins! God damn I shed a tear when that came on. The one track that didn’t work for me was Lady Gaga though. It stood out big time to the 80s nostalgia fest that I was so hard for. Oh well, can’t nail them all.
Top Gun: Maverik might be the least subtle form of military propaganda, but hell it’s worth the trip to the cinema. This needs to be watched on a big screen, the bigger the better. I saw it on a regular sized screen so will be venturing back out to see it again.
Also, Maverik’s bike is in the movie. And he rides it down a runway with a jet beside him. That is literally enough reason to watch the film.
I give Top Gun: Maverik a top…
Oh, to the guy in the cinema who went through 4 cans of Redbull and a can of cider, bro, you’re gonna die if you keep that up.