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Top Gun gives top tier excitement: Movie Review

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

After two years of COVID-19 delays, Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick is finally cleared for take off. Not only is the movie more than worth the wait, it’s the best action film in years.

The wait for a Top Gun sequel is twofold: not only was its release delayed for when full audiences could return to cinemas, but it marks the return of lead Tom Cruise to the role that made him a truly Hollywood movie star 36 years after the original film in 1986.

This sequel is everything the original aspired to be and only partially succeeded in. Maverick is filled with all the full-throttle excitement and craftsmanship that made Top Gun so likeable, though the sequel comes without the corny 80s style undercutting the story’s interesting, dramatic stakes.

From beginning to end, there isn’t a dull moment in Top Gun: Maverick. This is a true Hollywood blockbuster that will have audiences cheering with a level of excitement that only masters can bring to the big screen.

It was a brave, brilliant move on star/producer Cruise to insist on waiting to release the movie when it could fulfill its full potential on the biggest movie screen you can find. Every detail in the practical sets and effects married with the pulse-pounding sound mixing is amplified to a 15/10 in the theatres.

Another smart move was bringing in a team of writers on the story and screenplay who understand this genre. One great example is Christopher McQuarrie, who helped Cruise reignite the Mission: Impossible series, now contributing to Maverick’s screenplay too.

Director Joseph Kosinski has fine-tuned this jet plane for a flawless launch into level of stratospheric excitement. His sharp eye knows when and how to balance the roaring fighter jets, coolness of the cast, lighting of the San Diego sunshine and cameras that really brings the audience into the danger and thrill of the cockpit.

Cruise returns as Pete (call sign Maverick) Mitchell, still a U.S. Navy captain, and adrenaline-seeking pilot. Now at the tail end of his career, he returns to the Top Gun training program he once graduated to teach and lead 12 new recruits for an impossible - and likely suicidal - mission.

Discovering the mechanics and specifics of the mission are part of what build the story’s suspense. Rather than spoiling it, I’ll only say how the terrific composure and grit of the whole cast help sell the (what thankfully isn’t hokey) concept.

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Beyond a predictably great Cruise, who is right in his element, the whole cast is excellent - especially Miles Teller as “Rooster”, the son of Maverick’s long-ago wingman Nick “Goose” Bradshaw.

Teller is a strong, grounded counterpart to Cruise, and even better than when he last worked with director Kosinski in 2016’s underseen Only The Brave. Bashir Salahuddin and Monica Barbaro are also standouts among the cast, and there are two short, great cameos from Ed Harris and Val Kilmer.

Kelly McGinnis as Charlie, Cruise’s original co-star, is not part of this new film, and instead features Jennifer Connelly as a new character, part bar owner and part love interest. Connelly is much better than the character she’s been tasked to play.

Connelly’s under utlilization, however, is the small downside to giving as much time and focus as possible to the airplanes, training exercises and climactic mission.

It’s hard to choose a best part when there are so many great scenes! From the Mach 10 test opening sequence, to his first reunion with Iceman, to Maverick testing the canyon run - you know you’ve created a well-rounded, full experience when it’s not just one memorable sequence but several of them. That’s what truly makes a movie an event.

One thing I really love that this, unlike many modern films, is a true PG blockbuster. It’s intense but not frightening or inappropriate for those age 10+. This would be a great first “grown-up” movie for middle schoolers.

Don’t miss what is almost certainly going to be the movie of the summer. The new Top Gun both surpasses the original in every way and most summer action spectaculars that wish they could be this sincerely cool.

Top Gun: Maverick

9 out of 10

PG, 2hrs 11mins. Action Drama Epic.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski.

Starring Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, Bashir Salahuddin and Val Kilmer.

Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, 5 Drive-In, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Also in IMAX.