Tom Cruise invented time travel. “Top Gun: Maverick” is an exhilarating, unstoppable, heart-pounding adventure that has no shame in being outdated.
On the contrary: the film embraces conventions and trappings that were already familiar in 1986 and, much like its predecessor, packs them all into a package of explosive action, heartfelt emotion and pure cinematic fun.
As a result, “Maverick” is entertainment that far exceeds the original “Top Gun.” The visual breakthroughs created by director Tony Scott nearly four decades ago, which cemented his film as a piece of pop history, are replaced here with focus, intensity and a healthy dose of nostalgia.
In the 21st century cinematic landscape, where action cinema has become more sophisticated in form and content, often driven by an ever-changing global geopolitical design, a film like “Maverick” is daring to be a contradiction.
By simplifying the risks in his story, focusing on a linear and schematic plot, director Joseph Kosinski (who worked with Cruise on “Oblivion”) followed a simplistic path that, while dangerous on the surface, proved perfect for promoting a sequel to the 1986 film.
At the center of it all, of course, is Tom Cruise. Throughout her career, the star has been reluctant to repeat characters. The exceptions were Ethan Hunt and Jack Reacher – the former because he possessed the balloon called “Mission: Impossible”, the latter for some untold reason.
In the new “Top Gun”, however, he enters with a thousand enthusiasms. In Cruise’s hands, Captain Peter “Maverick” Mitchell, who seemed to have concluded his dramatic arc 36 years ago, returns with a story that at no point feels forced.
In “Top Gun,” the original, he was the talented but impulsive pilot sent to Navy training school to hone his skills – and drop his bullet. From then on, the script followed the basic list of how to write an action movie.
It starts with the rival challenging you to prove you’re the best. He goes through romance with an instructor, who puts him between love and duty. It culminates with the best friend, a family man, tragically dying during an aerial exercise.
When a threat loomed late in the second half, to ensure stunning dogfight sequences, “Top Gun” went from arrogance to guilt, arriving at redemption in explosive fashion. In 1986, audiences went wild, making Cruise a star and the highest-grossing film of the year.
“Top Gun: Marevick” repeats nearly every narrative point perfectly. The text by Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer, seasoned with the deft hand of Christopher McQuarrie, takes great care to balance the moments that trigger nostalgia with the obvious notion of the passage of time.
Not that time seems to have moved on when “Maverick,” in its opening scene, mirrors that of the 1986 film (many grown men will already be turning on the taps here). They’re fighter jets profiled on an aircraft carrier and then paraded through the air, a prologue that sets us up to find out what happened to Maverick over those three decades.
The captain remains in the navy, but chose to be a test pilot so as not to climb the military hierarchy. Pushing the boundaries of experimental jets, it stays in the air, not behind a desk. It is not the institution or the patent that moves him, but the adrenaline, the “need for speed”.
What makes “Maverick” a film ahead of “Top Gun” is having a goal. If the enemy was once random, this time the best navy pilots, an equally arrogant and confident new generation, have a clear threat, a mission to infiltrate enemy territory and destroy an enrichment facility. of uranium.
Maverick then returns to Top Gun as an instructor. His reputation does not sit well with the base commander, Cyclone (Joe Hamm, who by law should do more movies), but the orders came from above, from Admiral Tom Kazanski (Val Kilmer), who like Iceman was Maverick’s rival and understands that the mission without him will be a failure.
Therefore, “Maverick” dives deep into nostalgia. Want a scene where the pilots sing in a bar near the airbase? We have. How about a friendly game of Soccer on the beach (not volleyball, but that’s okay), with sweaty people, shirtless bodies and tight brotherly bonds? We also have. Training with absurd aerial sequences? THE!
Director Joseph Kosinski, who created special cameras to fit the cockpit of fighters, made Tom Cruise balance the role of observer and protagonist. Sign of the times. Maverick embraces his age and his role because he understands the need to gain the pilots’ trust and prevent them from making mistakes in a clearly suicidal mission. On the other hand, it is understood that he will not steal the attack, but the text makes this inevitable: it is still, after all, a Tom Cruise film.
The romance with Jennifer Connelly, a character mentioned but never shown in the original, sets an anchor for Maverick, who now views his mortality with a different lens than he did 36 years ago. He is angry, but now he understands that he has more than time to waste. The circle is complete with the presence of Rooster (Miles Teller), son of Goose (the one who died by accident in the original film), also a fighter pilot. who clashes with Maverick
These conflicts in “Top Gun: Maverick” are as shallow as a saucer. Like the rivalry between the pilots, which refers to a now moldy fantasy of masculinity. The enemy itself is referred to as a “rebel nation”, its technologically superior ships manned by pilots in dark-lensed helmets, anonymous as in the TIE fighters of “star wars“.
None of this, however, makes the slightest difference. As with the 1986 action movie, before ‘Die Hard’, ‘True Lies’, ‘The Matrix’ and Tom Cruise’s ‘Mission: Impossible’, there is no equipment in ‘Maverick’ that does not doesn’t just exist to leverage action or elicit emotion.
The buttons are therefore refined to the maximum to inject two hours of adrenaline and nostalgia. There aren’t a dozen connections like the Marvel movies. It is impossible to defy the laws of physics in “Fast & Furious”. Genuine emotion and honesty abound: in “Top Gun” there is not a shred of cynicism or irony.
It’s a throwback to the past solely concerned with fun, designed to show that it’s still possible to create a grand film using a familiar structure – the third act is so out of the house that it builds a moment of catharsis with the return of the now-retired F-14 Tomcat fighter.
Tom Cruise, still the biggest movie star on the planet, knows exactly what his audience wants. Without the slightest desire to upset, he delivers the full package – yes, he wanted to fly an F-18, but the US Navy thought it best not to. Everything is fine. Watch it, if you can, on the biggest screen possible, in the cinema with the loudest, crystal-clear sound. “Top Gun: Maverick” is a spectacle. Perhaps the biggest you will see this year.