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‘Top Gun: Maverick’ review

Tom Cruise takes to the skies once again for this sensational action-blockbuster.

Top Gun: Maverick
Credit: Paramount Pictures UK

Finally serving us our need for speed some 36 years after the blockbuster original, Tom Cruise returns to the heavens for this hugely anticipated sequel. Due for release months ago, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ has been patiently waiting in the (mighty) wings to save blockbuster cinema in a way that only Tom Cruise can deliver. And does he ever… ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is pure jet-fuelled spectacle that’s full of excitement, stunning action, and unbelievable cinematography. This is exactly the type of movie that cinemas are made for, and you must see it in the biggest screen imaginable for the full effect.

The plot is short and sweet, which allows for the grandeur of the flights to take centre-stage. That’s not to say that this script cuts corners on the emotional stakes though, because ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is one of the most emotionally charged blockbusters we’ve had in years. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell is still flying the skies, testing out new areo-tech and pushing the limits of what can be achieved in a fighter jet. He’s called back to Top Gun in order to train a new group of recruits, all of whom have excelled in their training. But they’ve never had to undertake a mission like this – one that looks impossible to pull off. So Maverick is in a race against time to prep them for the task – including a tense reunion with Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the grown-up son of his old partner Goose who died under his watch.

Much like the first film, Tom Cruise has once again surrounded himself with a brilliant ensemble who all get their moment in the sun. First off, there’s stellar support from a returning Val Kilmer as the cooler than cool Iceman. Kilmer has had his health battles in the past, so it was a really heartfelt moment seeing him reprise his role as Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky. ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ manages to evoke all of the sentiment of the original film, and that’s never truer than in the scene between Ice and Maverick. It’s done so well, and frankly is a joy to watch from start to finish.

Jennifer Connelly is a great actress, and her story plays to the usual beats of a love interest. It’s all done very well (as you’d expect with a film populated with this much talent on and off the screen), but I can’t help but feel that there was more drama to explore between her and Maverick. We don’t get to know too much about Penny Benjamin, and that’s a shame because her chemistry with Cruise is palpable. Jon Hamm is excellent as the gruff Beau ‘Cyclone’ Simpson, a military general who doesn’t want Maverick anywhere near his mission.  

Of the new recruits, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ picks a good collection of raw talent to carry the film’s narrative well. I’ve always thought Glenn Powell is destined to be that next big A-list star, and hopefully this movie gives him the leverage to make that leap. He’s great as the smug head of the class Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin. Miles Teller (as Maverick’s former co-pilot Goose’s grown-up son) is the co-lead of the film, and he is very comfortable and assured in the role. His dynamic with Cruise is well laid out and his character arc develops well as the story progresses. Monica Barbaro is great as Natasha ‘Phoenix’ Trace, and she has a good rapport with her co-pilot Lewis Pullman, and her other teammates Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis and Jay Ellis.

I’m a huge fan of director Joseph Kosinski, who brought us visual treats in the form of TRON: Legacy and Oblivion – so at the very least this film was always going to look absolutely stunning. And he certainly delivers that, with a film that pays homage to the look and feel of the 80s original, but still manages to be its own beast. The soundtrack is great, including the classic ‘Danger Zone’ by Kenny Loggins to really take the audiences back into the cockpit, and Lady Gaga’s ballad ‘Hold My Hand’ which is a worthy anthem for the film. It also features original score music by Lorne Balfe, Harold Faltermeyer Hans Zimmer – quite the worthy trio to have involved in any movie.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ has to be seen on the biggest screen possible because it’s a breathtaking experience, especially in IMAX. Tom Cruise has spent years perfecting the way this story should be visually told, and the end result is a movie that puts you directly into the fighter jets. Some of the things they pull off in this movie are jaw-dropping. The cinematography is amazing, and the stunts are as exhilarating as they are both real and practical. IMAX is the format of choice for this kind of blockbuster tentpole, and the spectacle delivers a truly awesome experience.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is what big scale cinema should be all about. Witnessing this epic on an IMAX screen is simply outstanding so I urge you all to see it in as big a screen as you can find. The clarity and depth of picture in IMAX gives the film even more substance and provides an unparalleled movie-going experience that you just won’t forget. As part of the ‘Filmed for IMAX’ program, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ was shot with IMAX-certified digital cameras and features nearly an hour of IMAX exclusive Expanded Aspect Ratio (EAR). The 1.90:1 aspect ratio, which fills the whole screen for a truly ‘wow’ moment, provides up to 26% more picture – something that’s only available in IMAX. If you can afford the price uplift then IMAX is the best way to feel the need for speed.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is a complete joy and manages to balance the demands of a modern blockbuster with the right level of nostalgia needed to make this a full-on success. The ensemble is amazing. The script, by Cruise’s frequent collaborator and friend Christopher McQuarrie, Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer, from a story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks, keeps the audiences enthralled and at the edge-of-their-seats throughout. Director Joseph Kosinski does a wonderful job bringing it all together, and then there’s Tom Cruise. The biggest movie star in the world loves cinema and no-one can deliver a movie quite like he can. He’s exceptional in every way here and leads the whole project with his unrivalled dedication to deliver supreme audience entertainment. He succeeds wholeheartedly with ‘Top Gun: Maverick’.

Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Val Kilmer, Glenn Powell, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, Monica Barbaro, Lewis Pullman, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis, Jay Ellis, Ed Harris, Bashir Salahuddin Director: Joseph Kosinski Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Peter Craig, Justin Marks Certificate: 12A Duration: 131 mins Released by: Paramount Release date: 25th May 2022

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