Filmmaker Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion) has one of the toughest jobs in cinema this year. See it is Mr Kosinski who is the man responsible for bringing Top Gun: Maverick to the big screen. Mark my words if the film is a flop there will be people baying for his blood because the original Top Gun film is not just a favourite for many cinemaphiles it is an absolute classic that was lauded with changing cinema forever.
Now as if there isn’t enough weight already on Kosinski’s shoulders he’s also had to wait that little bit longer for the verdict on the film because it has been repeatedly pushed back due to the pandemic. By the time it opens in cinemas this week it will nearly be two and half years since the date it was originally scheduled for release.
Well perhaps we can lighten that load a little for Mr Kosinski because we have seen Top Gun: Maverick and as a fan who has been waiting over 30 years for another film in the franchise I can say the film more than lives up to expectations.
This time around we find Maverick (Tom Cruise – Rainman) still technically a Navy pilot but now testing new era aircraft. It’s not his ideal role but at least it isn’t retirement but as usual Maverick tests the nerves and patients of the top brass and soon finds himself close to being forced to retire.
Luckily for him though he is saved by Iceman (Val Kilmer – The Saint) who is now a highly ranked officer and he is given the task of being sent to the Top Gun Academy to help train a team of pilots for a near impossible mission.
On arrival at Top Gun Maverick instantly finds he is not wanted by his new boss, Cyclone (Jon Hamm – The Town), and discovers that his former deceased flight partner Gooses’ son Rooster (Miles Teller – Divergent) is part of the team that he has to train. Like Cyclone Rooster soon shows that he also has not time for Maverick.
To the credit of Kosinski and Tom Cruise, who had a lot of creative input into the film, what we have here is a rare exception in the cinema landscape – a sequel that more than matches the original film. Even a quick glance at this film will show that the action sequences here sets it apart from anything that we have seen in cinema over the past decades. Marvel could only dream of creating something as original as this.
There are no shortcuts with this film as one of the rules Cruise had about being part of this film was that the use of CGI was to be limited. Yes just like the original film Top Gun: Maverick sees the filmmakers having to work very closely with the Navy and shots on aircraft carriers were filmed on real carriers and the sequences with actual fighter jets were mostly shot with actual jets. Even Cruise’s own private antique aircraft makes an appearance.
The result is something that nobody could have predicted. The scenes of jet fighters flying low through canyons or shooting off with their afterburner glowing is nothing short of spectacular and needs to be seen on the biggest screen available. Knowing that the cast including Cruise, Teller, Monica Barbaro (The Good Cop) and Lewis Pullman (Them That Follow) are actually in a jet and experiencing the G’s that put agony across their face adds to a realism that an action film has no right happening.
Even the screenwriting team nail their jobs with this film. There is nothing in it that disrespects any of the characters from the past and given how ill Val Kilmer was when they were making this film they treat his character with the upmost respect. Unlike a lot of sequels or reboots even the new characters, which include an old flame of Maverick’s Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly – A Beautiful Mind), add to the storyline rather than hinder it.
In fact it is the performance of one of the actors playing one of the new characters that really steals the show here. Miles Teller is truly sensational as Rooster. It is obvious that he has studied the performance of Anthony Edwards who played his father, Goose, in the original film because he seems to capture all the same mannerisms that Edwards brought to his character in an eerily good way. Even the scenes where he has to stand up to Cruise, one of the best actors of our generation, have a raw power to them and it feels like an honour watching this young actor go from strength to strength.
There is simply just so much to love about Top Gun: Maverick from sensational visual and action sequences through to a plot that actually allows its stars the ability to put in some brilliant acting performances. As far as sequels go this is pure perfection!