Tag Archives: Cruise as Maverick

“Top Gun: Maverick” Exceeds the Storytelling Success of Iconic Original

Brace your favorite wing-mates for some breathtaking ground-hugging film flights in Joseph Kosinski’s precision-guided Top Gun: Maverick (A-). The long-awaited sequel works as both a nifty nostalgia trip and also as a fully developed story in its own right, with vivid visual and emotional appeal. Set nearly four decades after the original film, this follow-up traces the arc of Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” as he returns to the U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, where the brash captain must confront his past as he trains a group of younger fighter pilots, among them the son of his deceased best friend Goose. The movie is emotionally grounded with fine performances by the fully-committed Cruise, a tormented Miles Teller, an appealing Jennifer Connelly and a charismatic Glen Powell. The film soars most in its action sequences with spectacularly rendered flight maneuvers, aerial dogfights and surprise stunts deepening the adventure elements. More than the original movie, this follow-up is buoyed by clear-eyed storytelling with less reliance on catchphrases, montages and stylistic cover-ups to a sometimes simplistic core. It builds on the franchise’s might and mythology and further cements Cruise’s power as the stuff of legend. A little overstuffed with underdeveloped characters, the film still hits its dramatic beats with dexterity. As far as Hollywood blockbusters go, viewers will be hard-pressed to find a more cohesive combination of high-flying and heart. 

“Top Gun” Full of High-Flying Style

Paramount Pictures.

Tony Scott’s Top Gun (B) is style over substance, but ah, what great style! This iconic ’80s drama action hybrid features a charismatic Tom Cruise as a talented Navy aviator whose brashness gets him into trouble with the ladies, including love interest Kelly McGillis, and puts him at odds with friends (Anthony Edwards) and rivals (Val Kilmer) alike. The “Danger Zone” of one of its pop songs refers to the tempestuousness of the romance, the braggadocio of the fly-boys and the dread of a real wartime menace. Anyone who was ever hot for teacher, wanted a kept moment to take their breath away or simply sought some effective action stunts flocked to this favorite of its heyday. The story is lots of montage and flashy imagery but packs a patriotic punch. You either like the lovey-dovey stuff or the sky-high high-jinks; the Venn diagram of people who find all of this works equally for them may be minimal. But see it for the stars in the making, the cocky catchphrases and a Harold Faltermeyer score that basically says “you’re kicking ass in America during the ’80s.”