‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Is Top-Tier Movie

Cruise, Others Deliver Solid Performances

If you told me the sequel to a 1986 blockbuster would be a huge success, I wouldn’t have believed you. That was, until I watched “Top Gun: Maverick.”

     I went into the theater with relatively low expectations and was blown out of the water by the sensible plot, great music, wonderful acting and surprisingly good use of nostalgia.

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     The movie opens with Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) working on a project in the middle of the Mojave Desert. After the project is shut down, Maverick is sent back to the Top Gun flight school as an instructor on a nearly impossible mission to destroy an unsanctioned uranium plant between two steep mountains. 

     Maverick must train the hand-picked best pilots to complete the mission and come home safely, while balancing the broken relationships he has left in his wake, including that of his old girlfriend, Penny (Jennifer Connelly), and his dead best friend/partner’s son, Lieutenant “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller).

     Sequels often have a reputation for being worse than the original, but that’s not true for “Top Gun: Maverick.” Sequels are often heavily coated in nostalgia, and “Top Gun: Maverick” is no exception. There were multiple repeated scenes, such as when Rooster plays “Great Balls of Fire” on the piano. That’s clearly a callback to the scene where his father played the same song with Maverick. The scene where the pilots play football in the ocean is close to the scene where the pilots play beach volleyball. They even use some of the same music from the original.

    The big difference with these scenes is that they aren’t just there for reminders of the original, but they actually advance the plot. When the pilots play football on the beach, it’s a teambuilding exercise to remind the pilots why they’re flying the mission in the first place. When Maverick is watching Rooster play Great Balls of Fire, the emotion on his face is evident as he recalls the good times he had with his old partner, Goose.

     Tom Cruise wasn’t the only actor who delivered a great performance, even though it was stellar. He made Maverick a real, alive character, with personality, ideals, motivations, and flaws. Miles Teller’s performance of a young pilot desperate to prove himself was also great. You could see the emotion on his face when he spoke with Maverick. Even the background characters, from the other pilots Maverick trains to the supervisors he constantly angers, they feel important and real.

     The use of the same music might seem like a strange choice, but it was well handled. The music was powerful and fit perfectly with the moments in the movie it was used. In fast paced, larger-than-life aerial dogfights, the music is heroic and fast. In touching love scenes, the music is tender and quiet. During the bar scenes, the music perfectly matches what you would expect to find in a bar.

     “Top Gun: Maverick” isn’t just another cash-grab sequel that will fade from memory as soon as it leaves the theaters. This movie will take you on an explosive, epic journey and leave you breathless and satisfied by the end.