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Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick

Synopsis:
After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.

We return to the naval flight academy after three decades in . Pete ‘Maverick' Mitchell () has never ranked past Captain and has only remained in the Navy due to the influence of Adm. Tom ‘Iceman' Kazansky (). Following a supersonic flight test, which Maverick performs against the orders of Radm. Chester ‘Hammer' Cain (), Maverick is assigned to return to the Top Gun Academy, where he is tasked by Adm. Beau ‘Cyclone' Simpson () to train a team of previous graduates for a near-suicidal mission to destroy an enemy uranium enrichment facility. One of the students happens to be Lt. Bradley ‘Rooster' Bradshaw (), the son of Maverick's late best friend Goose, who holds resentment toward Maverick over the death of his father.

Arriving 36 years after the 1986 original, Top Gun: Maverick sees Tom Cruise return to the role that helped to make him into a box office superstar, with Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion) taking over as director from the late Tony Scott. Starting with an opening credits sequence that seems directly lifted from the original, right down to the use of Kenny Loggins' hit song “Danger Zone,” this new film features many throwbacks while also telling its own story. This includes the introduction of a new squad of young fighter pilots including Lt. Natasha ‘Phoenix' Trace (Monica Barbaro), Lt. Robert ‘Bob' Floyd (Lewis Pullman), Lt. Reuben ‘Payback' Fitch (Jay Ellis), Lt. Mickey ‘Fanboy' Garcia (Danny Ramirez), and Lt. Jake ‘Hangman' Seresin (Glen Powell), the latter of whom plays the role of cocky rival to Rooster, similar to the dynamic between Maverick and Iceman in the original. The film also sees Maverick reunited with old flame Penny Benjamin (), the daughter of an admiral briefly referenced in the original film, who now owns the bar where the Top Gun students regularly visit.

Top Gun: Maverick is a sequel that has been in development for an incredibly long period, with original director Tony Scott at one point set to return before he tragically committed suicide in 2012 (Top Gun: Maverick features a dedication in Scott's memory). In addition, having originally been filmed in 2019, Top Gun: Maverick received some original delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having previously collaborated with Tom Cruise for 2013's Oblivion, Joseph Kosinski does a fine enough job taking over in the director's chair. However, the true star of Top Gun: Maverick are the IMAX-shot flight scenes, shot within real fighter jets. It is those scenes that help make Top Gun: Maverick a film work checking out, preferable in an IMAX cinema.

While, technically a sequel, Tom Cruise's Maverick is the only central character to play a major role in this film. Despite suffering from throat cancer over the last decade, Val Kilmer makes a brief return in Top Gun: Maverick as rival-turned-friend Tom ‘Iceman' Kazansky, with A.I. technology being used to help restore Kilmer's speaking voice, which was affected by two tracheotomies he received. The original film's love interest Charlotte ‘Charlie' Blackwood, played by Kelly McGillis, is replaced in this film by Penny Benjamin, played by Jennifer Connelly, whose relationship with Maverick reportedly predates the events of the original, despite the fact that Connelly is more than a decade younger than McGillis.

If there is a criticism I have to give Top Gun: Maverick is that like the original, it is an incredibly testosterone-fueled film that overly glamorizes life in the military. This includes the inclusion of a shirtless beach football scene, to emulate a similar volleyball scene in the original. Throughout Top Gun: Maverick, Monica Barbaro as Lt. Natasha ‘Phoenix' Trace really stands out in the film as the only central female character, who is not someone's love interest. However, this lack of diversity doesn't end up distracting too much from the film as a whole.

Overall, Top Gun: Maverick ends up being a somewhat decent legacy sequel that is worth seeing for the IMAX flight scenes.

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Trailer for Top Gun: Maverick

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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