“Top Gun: Maverick” is a movie that feels the need, the need for speed! However, that speed does not carry over to the speed in which this new update/remake/sequel of the original “Top Gun” was made. Even with the Pandemic Pause that pushed it out a couple more years, this movie was still over thirty plus years in development. Was it worth the wait? YES INDEED! It will ‘Take Your Breath Away’!
Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (played by Tom Cruise) is thirty year plus removed from his initial days at “Top Gun” school. He is remains friends with his classmate Four-star Admiral “Iceman” Kazansky (played by Val Kilmer). Maverick has pushed the limits so many times, it is only because his old pal “Ice” has bailed him out — that is the reason that Maverick has not been bounced out of the military.
Maverick’s current job is being a Test Pilot for a new sleek stealth fighter. Maverick pushes the limit there, also. He gets the new plane to hit Mach 10, but then he goes beyond. Rear Admiral “Hammer” Cain (played by Ed Harris) wants to get rid of Maverick, after he disobeys orders and crashes the test plane. But “Ice” pulls rank, and Maverick is sent back to “Top Gun” school.
Not to fly, but to teach. Maverick has no options. The leader at Top Gun is Vice Admiral “Cyclone” Simpson (played by Jon Hamm). He is not happy to see Maverick return, with all his past baggage. But there is a special mission that is in the works. The past top twelve Top Gun graduates are returned to train and take part in this mission. There is a near-suicide mission that is being planned. Some unnamed country is breaking a treaty and refining uranium. The mission is to take out this heavily-fortified facility that is almost impossible to approach without being shot down. It’s something of a ‘Mission Impossible’…
Maverick needs to work these ace pilots into a cohesive team. That will not be an easy chore. There are excellent pilots, and none of them want to work as a unit. They include Lt. “Hangman” Seresin (played by Glen Powell) — a self-assured cocky SOB who has taken a page from Maverick’s old playbook. Also, there are Lt. “Phoenix” Trace (played by Monica Barbaro), and her wingman Lt. Robert “Bob” Floyd (played by Lewis Pullman). Oh yeah — another of pilots is Lt. “Rooster” Bradshaw (played by Miles Teller). He happens to be the son of “Goose”, Maverick’s old wingman from Top Gun days.
Maverick is trying to settle in, and he meets a woman he once knew back in the day. Penny Benjamin (played by Jennifer Connelly) is the daughter of an Admiral, and she went with Maverick on an unauthorized flight in a F-14 Tomcat back in Top Gun days. He was almost busted out of the service for that prank. But he was able to stay in because of his skills, not because of acute common sense. Penny is now a single mom, and she runs the bar in which he and Goose and Iceman used to hang out.
Maverick and Rooster have a lot of tension, since Maverick was the person who was there when Goose crashed into the ocean on a training mission. Nothing he could do would save Goose. Maverick feels awful about, and Rooster holds a lot of resentment. Cyclone Simpson tells the team that the training time is being cut short, because the facility needs to be taken out a lot sooner. Cyclone has no trust in Maverick, and if it were not for Ice — he would have him booted off the base.
Ice has a brief meeting with Maverick. He lets Maverick know that he believes he can make this mission work. Ice is the only person who believes in Maverick. Good this Ice is a Four-star Admiral and Commander of the Pacific Fleet. But Ice is deathly sick, and if he goes, Maverick might be out of a job. Mortality catches up to Ice, and now Maverick and the whole mission might be down the tubes.
Maverick decides give it one last try. He takes an F/A-18 Hornet plane and flies the test course where he has training the pilots. He does simulated run on the practice target facility and nails it. It is high-G-force ride in a twisty-turny route that none of the other pilots had yet mastered. Vice Admiral “Cyclone” Simpson sees that he has no other option than send Maverick out to lead a four-plane squad to do the ‘double miracle’ mission.
The final part gets into the ‘Impossible Mission’ that Maverick needs to lead. “Cyclone” Simpson gives the go ahead, and they all are taken on an aircraft carrier for the mission. There are a lot of super-speed flying though canyons and up steep mountain cliffs to get to the secret bunker. Surface-to-air missiles are a constant threat, and some random enemy fighter planes are active in the area. It’s a super wild ride, and many near-misses could bring down any of out heroes. G-forces are bouncing those ace pilots every which way.
“Top Gun: Maverick” is a throw-back to an old-style blockbuster formula. It has quite a few ‘jump out of your seat and cheer moments. Just about all of the flying was done with practical effects, making the results look super realistic. Tom Cruise has worked with director Joseph Kosinski before (on a movie called “Oblivion”). They have a great mutual respect for each other and it shows. Cruise was insistent that this movie be held back until audiences could see in large wide-screen theaters. It was a very good call.
Every person involved in making this movie gave 100 percent. All the acting is great, even when the story becomes a little repetitive of the original. But, that does not distract one bit. The gung-ho attitude of the movie and the incredible aerial stunts make for a movie experience not seen in – well over thirty years!
“Top Gun: Maverick” is a ‘strap-in-tight’ experience, as Tom Cruise and crew take you right back into the “Danger Zone”. And it is very much worth the wait!
Top Gun: Maverick
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Screenplay by: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie
Story by: Peter Craig, Justin Marks
Based on Top Gun Characters by: Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer
Cinematography: Claudio Miranda
Edited by: Eddie Hamilton
Music by: Lady Gaga, Harold Faltermeyer, Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release date: May 27, 2022
Length: 131 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense action, and some strong language
Genre: Top Gun Action