Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick ★★★★

This transparently propagandistic pack of Hollywood clichés offers almost nothing surprising, on paper, but somehow manages to manifest itself on screen as a rare, completely genuine and utterly transcendent cinematic expression. You could mistake its formally unadventurous plot for retrograde nostalgia, but it’s interested in something completely different: the thrill of accepting who you are, leaving the past behind, and barreling forward with the whole of your being. That it does this through the vessel of idealized American male andprofessional madman Tom Cruise allows it to take the form of pure theatrical sensation; when Maverick flies it’s an articulation of a communal longing to throw off the shackles of everyday life, in the most reckless and yet masterful way possible. Cruise is the reason this exists but it has to be said that his collaboration with screenwriter and producer Christopher McQuarrie—and not director Joseph Kosinsky—is what holds this film together. McQuarrie is a maestro of wrangling Cruise’s irrepressible, unstable ambitions into tightly plotted, structurally sound engines of pure cinema.

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