- TOP GUN: MAVERICK
- Starring: Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly
- Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
- Rating: PG-13
- Running Time: 2 hrs 11 mins
- Paramount Pictures
Pure, blissful summertime entertainment. Over thirty years in the making, “Top Gun: Maverick” lives up to all the hype and box office returns it has garnered over the past few days. It is nothing less than an epic thrill ride as Tom Cruise proves that a film does not need costumed heroes, grandiose special effects, or special cameos to be a great movie experience. In that respect, Cruise is a throwback to when a movie could be carried by the weight of the just one star’s name at the top of the movie poster. “Top Gun: Maverick” is moviemaking at its best and is a guaranteed good time at the theater.
Naval aviator Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise), whose insubordination has prevented him from ever rising up the ladder in rank, comes close to being kicked out of the military by Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain (Ed Harris) after he crashes an experimental aircraft. Instead of having to return to civilian life, Maverick’s champion, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) gets him transferred to the Top Gun school where he first made a name for himself. It’s not an option to his liking, but Maverick is left with little choice.
When he arrives in San Diego, Maverick is told he is to train an elite group of U.S. Navy aviators for a high-risk mission to knock out an underground uranium enrichment facility in an unnamed, rogue state. Complications abound as he not only has to deal with an antagonistic, clearly jealous superior officer in Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson (Jon Hamm), but he also has to be the teacher of Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his late wingman, Goose. It’s an estranged relationship and Maverick continues to be haunted by the tragic accident that occurred in the original film.
Of course, the film would not be complete without a bit of a love story, which comes in the form of Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly), the bartender of a local drinking establishment. Their relationship is of the on-again, off-again variety and while Penny was not in “Top Gun” she was mentioned by name as being an admiral’s daughter.
Cruise is in top form with a role reprisal that has him dig far deeper into his character than he ever did before. While there is still a reckless abandon about Maverick, Cruise and the script take it to a whole new level. It’s not that he has a death wish, but he is willing to take any risk afforded to him to seemingly fill a void. There is a deep seeded pain in his soul that is nothing less than PTSD from the experience of losing Goose. It haunts him daily and nightly, and the risks appear to be a way to drown it out. Cruise dominates the silver screen with his presence as he pulls off an incredible performance, punctuated in part by a heart-tugging scene with Kilmer.
Director Joseph Kosinski shot some of the greatest fighter jet footage ever put on film. The visuals are jaw droppingly wild with clearly some of the best pilots in the world demonstrating some absolutely insane skills. No greater recruiting film for the U.S. Air Force or Navy has ever been made.
Overall, if you have not seen “Top Gun: Maverick” yet, then why haven’t you?