Top Gun: Maverick

***

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Top Gun
"Cruise, doing many of his own stunts, owns the territory with stellar charisma." | Photo: Paramount Pictures

You still get a lot of bang for your buck with Tom Cruise. Forty years on from the first film, which was directed by Tony Scott, Maverick is still the fastest guy in the skies.

The opening scenes on an aircraft carrier sets the adrenalin punch for the film to follow: high fives, fist bumps and macho thumbs ups accompany the take-offs and landings which are of no particular discernible use to the overall narrative but set the scene incontrovertibly.

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It’s more boys with toys for the next generation and there’s enough nostalgia built-in to keep dads and their sons on cloud nine and any other who come along for the ride.

When we hook up with Pete “Maverick” Mitchell he’s living on his own in a hangar in the Mojave Desert. Just for old time’s sake there is a photo on the wall in memory of his best buddy Goose, who died during a training accident in the first film.

He makes a living as a daredevil (naturally) test pilot on a naval base nearby where he turns up for duty on his gleaming Kawasaki. He hasn’t been grounded yet because he resists any promotion. On one spectacular flight he pushes the limits just a mach too far and incurs the wrath of Ed Harris’s Admiral Cain. The latter has a devilish and inconsiderate plan to replace the gung-ho pilots with drones.

Maverick is taken down a peg or two and reassigned to the Fighter Weapons School (also known as Top Gun Academy) in San Diego which was set up to train the Naval flyers.

His job is to prepare them for a secret mission to destroy a uranium plant on enemy soil (it’s never revealed who the enemy is) which involves getting in and out over rocky peaks as quick as you like - or else.

They’re still a very macho bunch of guys with one woman called Phoenix (Monica Barbara) in on the act (tokenism?) to dilute any budding bromances. Goose’s son Rooster (Miles Teller) with his father very much in his thoughts has a feisty relationship with the omnipresent Hangman (Glen Powell).

On the emotional front Maverick strikes up an old romance with Jennifer Connelly as a single mum who runs a local bar but there are no nods to previous flame Kelly McGillis.

Val Kilmer’s Iceman makes a brief and touching contribution, reflecting the actor's own health issues, and evoking the old rivalry but also the bonds of friendship.

Technically it’s faultless as you might expect, honed for the big screen (Imax if you can get it) with a resoundingly robust soundtrack from Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga and Hans Zimmer.

Cruise, doing many of his own stunts, owns the territory with stellar charisma. Take it all with healthy dollop of cynicism, fasten your seat belts and surrender to the need for speed.

Reviewed on: 19 May 2022
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Maverick, now a trainer, encounters the son of his old friend Goose.

Read more Top Gun: Maverick reviews:

Andrew Robertson ***1/2

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Writer: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Lewis Pullman, Val Kilmer, Miles Teller, Monica Barbaro, Ed Harris, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Jean Louisa Kelly, Manny Jacinto, India Everett, Jay Ellis, Bashir Salahuddin, Danny Ramirez

Year: 2022

Runtime: 131 minutes

Country: China, US

Festivals:

Cannes 2022

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