Top Gun: Maverick - A Sequel that Outguns the Original Spoiler Review

Tom Cruise has been a movie star for almost 40 years now, and Top Gun: Maverick is proof why he is one. Cruise returns for a sequel 36 years after the original that is a much better film than anybody was expecting. Top Gun: Maverick is a fitting continuation while also putting a bow on the character of Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell. It has only been 24 hours since I left the theater, and I am already jonesing for my next viewing of it. Before going to watch Top Gun: Maverick I watched Top Gun, and while I still enjoy the film, I am aware that it is not a good movie. Top Gun: Maverick is not just an enjoyable film; it is also a really good movie. Top Gun: Maverick does have some issues, but they feel like minor issues considering it is an action film and not a drama. Tom Cruise has more charisma than just about any other actor I can think of, and the supporting cast has enough familiar faces and solid performances to give the film balance. The film features a group of young pilots with Miles Teller (Whiplash), Lewis Pullman (Bad Time at the El Royale), and Glen Powell (Everybody Wants Some!!) being the most familiar of the faces. Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) is playing Penny Benjamin (the Admiral's daughter referenced in the 1986 film), her and Maverick have a messy romantic history that he is trying to fix. Jon Hamm (Mad Men) plays Maverick's commanding officer Admiral Beau 'Cyclone' Simpson, someone who is more of antagonist than an ally. The main cast all stood out, but the film belonged to Cruise as the story was centered around Maverick.

I have long been enamored with jets; my dad would take me to see the annual air show in Toronto as a child. The way the film was made is particularly interesting to me since they used practical effects for a lot of the film. The actors portraying pilots had to complete a six-week Navy course to prepare them for the scenes they would be filming. The actors were in the jets for a vast majority of the film, and their reactions in the cockpits were real. One of my dreams is to be in the cockpit (not flying of course) of a jet and feeling what it is like to pull some serious Gs. Going into the film I thought the plot would focus on Maverick having to take over as the lead instructor at the Fighter Weapons School. I was expecting the sequel to be a structurally similar film to the first one, but I am glad the writers were more creative than I was. The writers managed to have the plot work around the Top Gun school, while also making it still essential to the story. The story combined with the practical stunt work of the film made it feel much more real, Tom Cruise's ability to push the boundaries of the stunt work in his films make them must see movies. I do not believe there is a working actor (possibly Keanu Reeves) who puts so much work into making themselves ready to do most of their own stunt work. The aviation scenes in this film are phenomenal, even the ones that are not based on the laws of physics are still really cool to watch. 


The film opens with an opening that is almost identical to the original but updated with the current fighter jets used by the Navy (F-18 Super Hornets). The main story picks up with Maverick arriving at an airbase where he is the test pilot for a prototype plane named darkstar. The project is about to be cancelled in favor of drones, but Maverick takes one last chance to prove the project is worth the investment. Maverick needs to get the jet to mach 10, or the project will be shuttered, and the funds diverted to drone projects. Rear Admiral Chester Cain (played by Ed Harris) is coming to the base to shut the project down, as he arrives Maverick takes off in the darkstar. Maverick is able to achieve mach 10, but he pushes it to mach 10.2 and the loses control of the jet crashing it. Maverick is brough before Cain who wants to ground Maverick permanently, but orders above Cain makes Maverick head to North Island Naval base for his next mission. Maverick goes to meet his commanding officer Admiral Simpson (a Top Gun winner) to be briefed on his assignment. Simpson makes it clear he did not ask or want Maverick, but the Admiral of the Pacific Fleet ordered him to take Maverick. Maverick was saved by his long-time pal Admiral Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky (played again by Val Kilmer). Maverick is tasked with getting a team of recent Top Gun graduates ready for a near impossible mission to destroy an unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant in an unnamed region.

Maverick heads to the local navy bar where he finds Penny Benjamin working as a bartender, they flirt and reconnect. The bar starts to fill up with the pilots selected for the mission, among them is Hangman (played by Glen Powell), Phoenix (played by Monica Barbaro), Bob (played by Lewis Pullman) and Rooster played by Miles Teller). The pilots bicker and compete for who is best, but after Maverick cannot pay the bar tab, they throw him out onto the street. Rooster is the son of Goose (who died in Top Gun), Maverick believes he is not ready for this type of mission. The next morning the pilots are assembled to be briefed by their new commanding officer, when Maverick appears the group is shaken as they realize he was the guy they had thrown out of the bar. Maverick then decides to take them on in a dogfight, he defeats all of them easily using his experience and skill to best them. Maverick believes that for them to complete the mission and return home alive they need push the planes and themselves beyond their current limits. Rooster is mad at Maverick because he put his career behind by blocking him, Maverick is conflicted by not believing Rooster is ready and not wanting get Rooster killed.  

Maverick goes to see Iceman who is battling a terminal illness, Iceman encourages Maverick to let go of his guilt over Goose's death and treat Rooster as he would any other pilot. Maverick also starts to rekindle his romance with Penny Benjamin, this time promising that he will not go anywhere without her. Rooster continues to push back against Maverick's advice, so Maverick focuses on building his pilots into a cohesive team. They are preparing for the mission by simulating the flight pattern needed to get to their target, and currently none of the pilots are able to complete the objectives in the required time. Iceman finally succumbs to his illness, and with no longer around to protect Maverick, Simpson grounds him takes over the mission. Maverick goes to see Penny who encourages him to not give up, she tells him to do whatever he feels necessary to get the pilots ready. While Simpson has is briefing the pilots Maverick disobeys orders and takes a jet to do the course to prove it is possible to complete. Maverick completes the course in the allotted time, and even though Simpson wants to reprimand Maverick, he instead promotes him to mission lead. The mission is moved up when the plant is nearer completion than originally thought. 

Maverick will lead the first part of the mission with Rooster leading the second phase of the operation. The mission begins with and both Maverick and Rooster complete their phases of the mission with the plant being destroyed, but the real danger was always after the mission. One the plant was destroyed they would be susceptible so surface to air missiles (SAMs) and superior enemy fighter jets. The SAMs start firing, and our pilots evade and use counter measures to evade getting hit. Eventually the SAMs win, and Maverick is forced to take a hit to save Rooster, Maverick's plane goes down and the pilots are told to return to base. Maverick managed to eject from the plane, but he has an attack helicopter closing in on him until Rooster arrives and destroys the helicopter. Rooster saved Maverick, but he is soon shot down as well by a SAM. Rooster ejects too, and Maverick goes to his position, but they are now trapped behind enemy lines with no help coming. Maverick has a plan, there is an air force base nearby that had a runway destroyed shortly before the attack to prevent more enemy planes from taking off. Maverick wants to steal a plane and attempt a take off on the now very short runway, Maverick sees an old F-14 Tomcat (his plane from Top Gun). Maverick and Rooster get the Tomcat ready for take off, and as they take off, they lose their front landing gear which collides with debris. 

Maverick and Rooster start heading for the aircraft carrier, but they come across two of the superior enemy fighter jets. Maverick and Rooster try to pretend they are friendlies to the enemy, but when they do not return the correct hand gestures the enemy takes position. Maverick then attacks before the fighter jets know what is happening, he is able to destroy one, but the other is on their tail. Maverick then hits the brakes and sweeps the wings out and the enemy blows by him and he shoots the last enemy fighter jet down. As Maverick and Rooster think they have won, an alarm goes alerting them that another enemy het has appeared on their radar. The jet is coming towards them, and they no more weapons left. As Maverick and Rooster are preparing to eject, they realize the ejection system is not working. The enemy jet is shot down by Hangman who was the emergency standby jet arrives just in time to save them. Maverick and Rooster then return to the carrier, but with their landing gear gone they will need to crash land onto the deck of the carrier. The deck crew of the carrier prepare a net to catch the plan and slow it down before it goes over the edge of the ship. Maverick and Rooster land the Tomcat safely and celebrate with the rest of the crew. At North Island base, Maverick goes looking for Penny, but he is told she has set sail with her daughter. As Maverick and Rooster are working on Maverick's restored P-51 Mustang Penny and her daughter arrives and Maverick takes Penny on a flight in the P-51 as the films ends.


What a thrilling film from start to finish; I do not know if my adrenaline has come down yet since seeing the film two days ago. The film was not just an adrenaline rush, it was also quite emotional as I had become invested in the characters. At the beginning of the film, I was convinced that Maverick would sacrifice himself to save Rooster, and I was partially correct, he just did not die. I found myself getting emotional at different points in the film, and that to me is a sign that the film is more than just entertainment. Miles Teller is a very talented actor, but I have had a hard time to cheer for him because I have heard not the greatest things about his character. Miles did a great job as Rooster, you could feel his simmering rage at Maverick, and when he was struggling you could see his indecision. I also liked Jon Hamm as Simpson; I hope if they do more sequels Hamm is a part of the cast if Tom Cruise does not return. Jennifer Connelly was also very good as Penny Benjamin; it was nice that they used the character since it was a memorably named character from the first film. Connelly was able to make Penny a character who was both vulnerable and likeable. Connelly and Hamm are both actors who have been overlooked for roles for some time. Hamm known for Mad Men has not had a star vehicle since the show ended, and I wish he was more active as I know he is very funny, handsome and an adept dramatic actor when needed. Connelly has consistently performed at a high level, and I think she is very careful about taking on roles; I hope we see more of her in the future.  

The plot of Top Gun: Maverick is similar to a film I have not seen in over twenty years, Iron Eagle 2 (which I know is not a good movie). Both feature a group of pilots who do not all get along team up to complete a difficult mission, I think Top Gun: Maverick is a vastly superior film compared to Iron Eagle 2. I think Cruise delivered another great performance as Maverick; he has such a gift for being charming. A Tom Cruise frequent partner in Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher, Mission Impossible: Fallout) helped write the script. The film was directed by Joseph Kosinski who I think is a very underrated director (Only the Brave, Oblivion and Tron: Legacy). Tom Cruise has worked with both Kosinski and McQuarrie before, and I think he really believes in their abilities which is why this film turned out so damn good. The scene involving Maverick completing the course to prove it is something that can be done was my favourite part. Not only was the scene intense, but it was also such an adrenaline rush; I could see that scene being something I watch to get me pumped up. I mentioned earlier about my interest in jets, Top Gun: Maverick has made me go on YouTube to look up videos of cockpit footage. 

Even though I have only seen the film once, I am confident in rating it a 9/10 just based on how it reached me on so many levels. I know some people will not connect with the movie like I did, but I think it would be tough to leave the theatre and not feel that you were entertained. I think this film can be watched by just about anybody, but fans of the 1986 Top Gun will be blown away by Top Gun: Maverick. If I was reviewing this as an action movie, I would say it is a 10/10, but as a film the only weak link was the lack of depth given to characters not named Rooster or Maverick. The only thing I missed was a new kick-ass song to set the tone, the first film had some classic moments with great music, and I think Top Gun: Maverick was not able to find a song that matched the tone. Those two very minor issues do not even come close to ruining the film, if anything I hope those two issues will be fixed in what I hope will be a third film in the series. Based on the financial success of this film I have to believe that Paramount will want a sequel, and while Maverick was given a perfect send off, I could see another film made focusing on the younger pilots. Take it from me that when I am constantly trying to think of how to see a movie for a second time it is a very good thing. Top Gun: Maverick is one of the best action films since Mission Impossible: Fallout and John Wick 3.

Thank you for reading my review of Top Gun: Maverick and let me know what you thought of the film and stay tuned for review of Obi-Wan, The Boys and Jurassic World: Dominion coming soon.

0/Post a Comment/Comments