Top Gun: Maverick: “A triumph that should be enjoyed in the largest possible cinema”
Nostalgia hasn’t felt this good in a long while. Joseph Kosinski has the hard task of taking the beloved 80s world of Top Gun and transporting it to 2020, pursuing a balance between novelty and a trip down memory lane. Maverick (Tom Cruise) is now a test pilot for the Navy, and still a captain – a highly decorated one, as he likes to say – whereas his rival-turned-friend, Iceman (Val Kilmer), has become a powerful admiral.
An unnamed foreign government (any resemblance to North Korea is purely coincidental) is secretly building a uranium plant and the Top Gun squad is recalled to neutralise it. It’s a near-suicide mission, especially for today’s young pilots who are used to dropping bombs from a high altitude. That’s when, contrary to every high-ranking officer’s wish, Iceman gives the training job to Maverick. It’s a last chance to stay in the Navy for the unruly aviator, but when he realises that Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of his late best friend, Goose, is amongst the candidates for the mission, things get complicated.
The beauty and artistry of Tony Scott are gone, and so is the originality of showing the dynamics between a group of fearless pilots. Every scene in the first hour comes across too safe, and fans of Top Gun are left longing for that bygone rawness. Most of the arcs of the original story are repeated, too – even the iconic homoerotic beach scene – but the characters are funnier and Cruise’s lines work like a charm: “I don’t like that look, Mav,” his colleague tells him. “It’s the only one I got,” comes his reply. The jet scenes, mostly filmed with the actual actors inside the planes, make for the ultimate cinematic thrill ride.
There is a definite moment when this wistful affection for Top Gun ends and Kosinski’s vision begins. Maverick is close to a breakdown and decides to force vice-admiral Cyclone’s (John Hamm) hand to stay in control of his assignment; from there, a number of breathtaking, tense sequences take place. It’s an emotional rollercoaster: as the heart beats faster, feelings swing between apprehension and sadness, elation and pride.
Contrary to the hypersonic plane Tom Cruise masters on-screen, Top Gun: Maverick takes a while to take off, but when it does, it’s a triumph that should be enjoyed in the largest possible cinema. It delivers the most spectacular marriage of music and images for a finale since Inception. Hats off to Hans Zimmer for giving us yet another memorable score.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Top Gun Maverick is released nationwide on 25th May 2022.
Watch the trailer for Top Gun Maverick here: