By: Amanda Guarragi
It’s officially summer blockbuster season and Top Gun: Maverick is the movie of the summer. It’s still early to claim this, but what a way to start. Audiences have grown accustomed to Marvel movies taking the summer blockbuster spots, while other action films barely reach that level of success or hype. In this case, director Joseph Kosinski takes the fans back to the 80s-style blockbuster and Tom Cruise gives a classic movie star performance to make the film one of the best of the year. Not only is it nostalgic, but it elevates the fighter jet sequences from the first instalment. This sequel improves upon what made Top Gun directed by Tony Scott so great in the first place.
After more than 30 years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. Training a detachment of graduates for a special assignment, Maverick must confront the ghosts of his past and his deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who choose to fly it. From the opening of this movie, Maverick had to move on from the ghosts of his past, which means Goose (Anthony Edwards). It made perfect sense for Cruise to come back for Maverick 30 years later when Goose’s son is all grown up.
Maverick has always been alone, but Goose and his family welcomed him. After what happened in Top Gun, it was hard for Maverick to ever have a relationship with Bradley (Miles Teller), knowing he was there when his father passed. In a way, Maverick always blamed himself even when he was cleared of all of that. The reason why this movie worked so well is because of the emotional connection to Goose and his family. There are key moments that made Maverick think about Goose because of what Rooster was doing. Not only does Teller look exactly like Anthony Edwards, but he did bring out the character of Goose a bit too. These roles were never meant to be as iconic as they became, but seeing Rooster resemble Goose so much made it so emotional.
Even though Teller didn’t have too much screen time, the way they dropped little tidbits throughout the movie made it work. It felt like Rooster had to ease into having Maverick as his teacher knowing everything from the past. The audience already knowing the connection the two of them had while others in the Top Gun class had no clue made for some interesting reveals. Cruise and Teller’s chemistry was great given the little time they had with each other, but they didn’t need that much to sell the story. It was all about showing how much they cared instead of telling each other, which just makes more of an impact in the third act of this film. Maverick helped out Rooster and taught the rest of the class to trust their instincts by being a bit like him while flying.
Not only was this a great conclusion to Maverick’s character arc because of how simple it was, but the movie itself looked incredible. With a team like Kosinski, Cruise, Jerry Bruckheimer, Chris McQuarrie, and Claudio Miranda working on this movie, everything worked together like a well-oiled machine. They all wanted to make an action film that stayed true to the original while adding so much depth to the characters. On top of that, they constructed authentic action sequences to make it one of the best sequels ever. This film demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible because the visuals make you feel like you’re in the cockpit with them. Knowing that they’re all flying on their own just raises the stakes while watching some intense flying in the third act.
Top Gun: Maverick exceeded expectations and delivered an emotional, action-packed thrill ride to open Blockbuster season. It is one of the best movies of the year and it will leave you speechless at the end of it. This movie will have you crying and laughing. And it will even make you hold your breath out of anticipation of what’s going to happen next. Everything about Top Gun was iconic when it came out in the 80s, but for a sequel to come out three decades later and be even better than the original makes it even more iconic. This is the most fun I’ve had in a movie theatre since Avengers: Infinity War and that’s because the stakes were high. Even if you’ve never watched the first film, you NEED to feel the speed of this movie and watch it in IMAX.