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‘Top Gun: Maverick’ blu-ray review

I’ve been wracking my brain about how to write this review without it just descending into a random stream of superlatives, and to be honest I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it. But in the interests of saving time and energy, I’ll not bury the lede, and just say that ’Top Gun: Maverick’ is not only one of the best films of this year, it is one of the best action movies of the last decade. It’s one of those films that is so good, and has made such a connection with audiences, that even though it is now available to own on Blu-ray, 4K UHD, and DVD, you can still catch it in the cinema. 

I had no idea how much I loved the original ‘Top Gun’ until this film started, and a wave of emotion hit me with like I was pulling 9G’s in an F-18 Super Hornet. Tears started forming in my eyes after the first few bars of music kicked in, and to be honest it never let up for the next 130 minutes.

More than 30-years have passed since we last saw US Navy Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) graduating from the Top Gun program. Still in the Navy, he should be an Admiral by now, but all he’s ever wanted to do was fly. Now a test pilot, he is living out in the desert flying top secret experimental jets. The film’s opening sequence as he pushes a supersonic jet to Mach 10 is utterly breathtaking.

The plot is beautifully simplistic. An enemy nation of the United States has an unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant hidden in a heavily fortified mountainous region. The Navy has received orders to destroy it. Maverick is tasked with returning to Top Gun, this time as an instructor, in order to train the latest batch of elite pilots to complete this dangerous mission. It’s an elegantly written set up, and the stakes are perfectly clear. Other blockbusters please take note.

That’s the thrills and spills taken care of, now how about some heart. Maverick was recommended for this assignment by Admiral Kazansky (Val Kilmer), better known to us as “Iceman”. Their scenes together will melt your heart. Returning to Miramar, CA will also reunite Maverick with Penny (Jennifer Connelly) one of his old flames. And finally, one of the mission candidate pilots is “Rooster” (Miles Teller) the son of Mav’s dead best friend and former flying partner, “Goose”.  Amid all the spectacular aeronautic action, it is the complex relationship between Maverick and Rooster—the guilt, the fear, the broken promises—that gives the film its true emotional wallop.

Top Gun: Maverick
Credit: Paramount Pictures

But if you’ve just come for the spectacular aerial action you won’t be disappointed either. Director Joseph Kosinski and cinematographer Claudio Miranda have broken new ground in the realm of cinematic fighter jet combat. Their work together in the massively underrated 2013 sci-fi thriller ‘Oblivion’ gave us a glimpse of their gorgeously stylised visual skills, but they take it to a whole new level with ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. 

A criticism that has been rightly levelled at a lot of blockbusters in the past decade (superhero movies have been particularly guilty) is the final acts have been largely dreadful. Lots of good films have come and gone that just descend into a CGI fuckathon. You don’t get that here. The commitment to doing everything for real, developing cameras that could capture cinematic level images from inside a real fighter jet, make this film feel wholly unique, and it pays off in spectacular fashion.

I can’t think of a film in recent years that has a better final act than this. From the minute the mission begins, to when the credits begin to roll, it is just a relentless assault on your senses and emotions. So thrilling, so tense, and so much emotion your heart will be in your mouth for most of the final act. But above all, the stakes are so clear, and the jaw-dropping action is so vividly rendered, it reminds you of the days when action films were directed by people who knew what they were doing. Thankfully, Joseph Kosinski is one of them. 

As I write this, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is the biggest film of 2022. James Cameron (one of those guys who knows how to direct action) might have something to say about this in a few week’s time, but for now, nothing else this year has come close to TG:M. At the start of the year, I don’t think anyone would have predicted this. A sequel 36-years later, making nearly $1.5bn? It sounds crazy. But I truly believe the success of this film speaks volumes about what audiences want from tentpole blockbusters like this: classic filmmaking, elegant storytelling, and vivid, beautifully choreographed action. It is the perfect blockbuster.

The disc comes with over 30-minutes of bonus content, kicking off with ‘Cleared for Take Off’, a featurette going behind the scenes of Tom Cruise’s vision for the sequel, which essentially boiled down to one thing: if we’re going to do it, we’re doing it for real. This has lots of cool stuff focusing on the challenges the filmmakers and the US navy faced in how to rig the F-18 fighter jets with cameras, whilst also getting the cast in the cockpits with real pilots. 

‘Breaking New Ground – Filming Top Gun: Maverick’ takes us further behind the scenes, looking at how they had to design and build specialist cameras so they could get the sensational imagery we see in the film. There’s also footage of the cine-jet they used, which has a camera mounted on the nose, and the incredible ground to air footage being captured. 

‘A Love Letter to Aviation’ is more of a love letter to Tom Cruise, with lots of people talking about how awesome he is, and what an awesome pilot he is, which gets a bit tiresome, but I suppose he is pretty awesome. ‘Forging the Darkstar’ takes us behind the scenes of the films astonishing opening scene. Finally, the disc is rounded off with the music videos for “I Ain’t Worried” by Onerepublic and “Hold My Hand” by Lady Gaga.

Top Gun: Maverick
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Top Gun: Maverick is available now to Download & Keep and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD.

Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman Director: Joseph Kosinski Writer: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie Released By: Paramount Home Entertainment Certificate: 12 Duration: 130 mins Release Date: 31st October 2022

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John Parker
John Parker
John is a freelance writer and film reviewer for Entertainment Focus.

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