There are movie stars, there are super stars and then there is Tom Cruise. Always a box office success, Tom Cruise raises the bar on his own work with Top Gun: Maverick. The movie is a cinematic experience we deserve after the crushing pandemic. And it's not just the mighty machines and sexy pilots, the storytelling is purposefully simple and effective.
The opening sequence instantly takes us back to the original Top Gun with 'Danger Zone' and that in itself does a great job of wiring your brain to fall in love almost immediately with the machines and the men. Essentially, the plot goes like so: Pete Mitchell is called back to the Top Gun Academy to train the next generation of elite pilots to take on an atrociously difficult mission. This crew of pilots (upated for 2022 sensibilites) is everything we loved about the original crew of Maverick, Iceman and Goose, in particular. The movie draws heavily on the nostalgia factor - Maverick still races his bike against the jets, and Goose's son Rooster looks EXACTLY like him. The return of Val Kilmer's Iceman as an aging, unwell Admiral is bound to make you just a little bit sad.
Top Gun: Maverick is a good looking flick - in more ways than one. Sure, there is the stellar cinematography but the cast takes our breath away! For starters, there's Tom Cruise looking even better than he did 35 years ago. We're going to need more information on his skincare routine, his diet and his deal with the devil. Glen Powell as the cocky, young pilot - Hangman - who thinks he is better than everyone else (because he is) has all the beauty, glamour and personality to be the definitive heart throb for this generation of Top Gun fans. The beach volley ball sequence is referenced with a beach rugby match and we have zero complaints - the men are shirtless and perfect, and the women are not in ridiculous bikinis. Special consideration for how good John Hamm looks as Maverick's boss - a baddie we love to watch!
There are some parts to the movie that require some level of suspension of disbelief and cheer for the team anyway. Jennifer Connelly's character is a bit lacklustre and perhaps even a bit forced. I suppose they had to give Maverick a love interest to humanise his fairly lonely character.
In our books, the movie is a solid 10! Is it the nostalgia of Top Gun? YES! But it is also a cinematic masterpiece that does the job of entertaining, thrilling and emoting in such a way that we all leave the cinema with a smile on our faces and wondering HOW DOES TOM CRUISE DO IT?