Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick ★★★½

70

The first thing you should know about Top Gun: Maverick is that it's sturdy as hell. A mix of old and new characters, a (seemingly) impossible mission, training montages, Danger Zone, winks and nods towards the sunset aesthetic of Tony Scott etc. Maverick is determined to make up for lost time and the film delivers as a modern version of a potent pop artifact from the 80s. It hits all of the necessary beats in an expected but satisfying way, with a quality ensemble cast (Jon Hamm! Jennifer Connolly!) for support. But what lingers, even after the Lady Gaga's 'Hold my Hand' ballad fades after the end credits, is Tom Cruise's movie-star performance.

Often, Tom Cruise and the character he's portraying are one and the same, and deciphering that inexorable tension is part of the fun. It is no different in this legacy sequel. Maverick is a lost relic, a legend from the old world, and he's brought back for one last ride because the past isn't quite through with him yet. He still has something to offer. Some of this is blatant within the parameters of the screenplay, but when tied in with the classical Hollywood structure and the focus on practicality in the aerial sequences, it's easy to make the connection that the iconic image and stature of an actor like Tom Cruise is on its way out in today's media landscape. In Maverick, he's doing it *his* way, by filming an absurd amount of glorious fighter jet action in-camera, cracking a shit-eating confident grin now and then, and providing a effortless mix of his charisma and dedication to the craft.

This is still a Top Gun sequel at the end of the day, but director Joseph Kosinski and team really nailed down the formula. Maverick should appeal to anyone looking for a quality blockbuster modeled in the old-fashioned tradition.

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