Top Gun: Maverick


‘…Top Gun: Maverick strikes a blow for the old-fashioned blockbuster, exceeding the range and grasp of the original, and giving a new generation a taste of the Boys Own heroism that made the first film a classic…’

Back in 1986, Tony Scott’s Top Gun was derided by some critics as an exercise in style over content, but audiences couldn’t care less what critics thought and made Scott’s film the biggest hit of the year by some degree. It’s perhaps surprising that a sequel has been in the works for so long, given the simplicity of the film and the ease with which the route-one narrative can be repeated or extended; Top Gun 2 has arrived close to 40 years after it was originally mooted. That’s usually too long for any sequel to recapture the magic of the original, but have no doubt; Top Gun: Maverick is exactly what you’d hope for and expect.

In Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up, Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Cruise) returns to Top Gun to teach, something he’s been avoiding for 36 years while he test-drives fighter jet prototypes at Mach 10. Rear Admiral Chester ‘Hammer’ Cain (Ed Harris) is about to ground Maverick for insubordination when he unexpectedly sends him back to Fightertown USA and a fresh assignment; training a crew of pilots for a dangerous mission overseas to blow up some enriched uranium before it can be weaponised by dark forces. Maverick hooks up with old flame and bar owner Penelope ‘Penny’ Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) , but there’s complications from the past in the form of pilot Bradley ‘Booster’ Bradshaw (Miles Teller) who turns out to be the son of Maverick’s tragic wing-man Goose. Maverick’s old sparring partner Iceman (Val Kilmer in a moving cameo) is now an admiral in ailing health, but he helps guide the new crew to new heights of heroism when Maverick ends up leading the assault on an unnamed country that, based on the snowy vistas and underground bunkers, really has to be Russia…

Those who criticised Top Gun for feeding Reagan-ite Cold War fantasies will be muted by reality catching up with fiction; the war in Ukraine means that a red-hot, trigger-happy war-footing is a given here. But what made Top Gun super-special was the access-all-areas to military machines supplied by the US Navy, and Top Gun: Maverick doubles down on this with stunning action sequences that may use some special effects, but you really can’t see the join. Planes fireball, bases explode, vintage choons blare, the good guys win against all odds and everyone is happy; there’s no point in diluting the formula, so everything from the beach sports to the earnest romance are duplicated here in style. It’s worth noting that the volleyball match has been upgraded to some kind of hybrid American football game with offence and defence at the same time; that means several balls in play, which feels just about right for a franchise with a celebrated excess of testosterone.

Top Gun: Maverick may have been delayed many times, most recently by the pandemic, but the slick end result dispels any doubts; this is an absolute blast from start to finish, with awesome aerial combat, some salty support from Jon Hamm and Glenn Powell, and a general feeling of a franchise firing on all cylinders. At a time when super-heroes and comic books are ruling the roost at a subdued box-office, Top Gun: Maverick strikes a blow for the old-fashioned blockbuster, exceeding the range and grasp of the original, and giving a new generation a taste of the Boys Own heroism that made the first film a classic. It’s the job of a critic to find faults, but any complaints are pointless; Top Gun: Maverick is a direct hit.

Thanks to Paramount UK for big screen access to this title. Top Gun Maverick hits US and UK cinemas on May 27th 2022,


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    • Is the correct answer. Will go back and see it again soon, but I’ve rarely seen a film so on point in terms of delivering what a big crowd want to see. I’m sure there will be some kind of backlash to any film that becomes an instant classic so quickly, but who cares. It’s just good..

        • Could this spur film-makers to make films that aren’t festooned with CGI and aren’t about people who can create fire-balls with their hands? No aliens, dinosaurs, portals or vortexes? Could it happen?

            • Top Gun maverick feels organic, wholesome and home-made compared to the usual fare…

              • It really does. I agree that it surpasses the original. The setup with Goose’s son gave the whole thing higher stakes that felt real and earned. Not a wrong note in the whole film.

                • It’s a much more rounded story too, not just training followed by action; Goose’s death means much more here than in the first film…met Hangman/Glenn Powell here in Glasgow a few years back, he’s quite a dude, but did not sleep in his bed…

                  • Yes- the story of a man with baggage rather than a bunch of cocky kids. And don’t worry, Hangman is young and clearly going places. I think you’ll get your chance to sleep in his bed?

                    • It’s not the prime purpose of being a film critic, more of an incidental bonus…

  1. Rocking. A pure blast. I had my doubts but I was blown away. The airplane scenes were fantastic and better still Cruise was exceptional. It was a good story, too, touching all the bases. but I wonder how many of the younger stars highlighted here will go to make it big. Miles Teller was already meant to, but that didn’t happen. Glen Powell is a new one to one and although the cocky grin worked for Cruise I’m not sure it did for everyone.

    • Now Glenn Powell should not be a new one to you; he was there at the Drygate for quiz-night with Richard Linklater! You get to meet all the best people in this lark. He auditioned for the role Teller got, but he’s pretty cool as Hangman in this. Glad to hear it worked for you!

  2. Great to hear this is a blast! I’m planning to see it Friday night when it opens in Japan. You are the second film critic I trust who has raved about this film. Very, very excited now!

    • Nice to be trusted! Thanks! I hoped this would be good, and it was; envy you seeing this in a busy cinema!

  3. I don’t know when I’ve been this excited to get to the theater. A big non-super hero blockbuster indeed. It was delayed so many times that for awhile I was saying we’d know pandemic was over when we saw Top Gun. While not strictly true, this feels like a milestone for movies and a return to some semblance of normal.

    • Considering the original was derided as synthetic MTV, it shows how badly we’ve come off track that Maverick is seen as a SERIOUS film and a return to OLD SCHOOL movie making. It is these things, and more, but it’s certainly the good time that non comic book fans don’t get access to often enough.

    • There’s no mention of Charlie, but oddly we do get to see footage of Meg Ryan. I guess Charlie was not the love of Maverick’s life. You’ll like this, deep blue hero stuff!

            • Yup, but your overall point is a good ‘un. Charlie was a big part of the first film, and the sequel really makes a point of picking up every thread possible from the first film except her, which is a shame. If she even got a throwaway line, I didn’t notice it…

              • I checked out why she isn’t in it and apparently she said whe asked in an interview if she’d been asked by the producers to be in it – She said: “Oh my God no they did not, and nor do I think they would ever.

                “I’m old and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is. And that is not what the whole scene is about. To me, I’d much rather feel absolutely secure in my skin and who and what I am at my age as opposed to placing a value on all that other stuff.”
                So there ya go.

                • I note that Penny Benjamin, the Jennifer Connelly character, is unseen but mentioned as being sexually active in Top Gun. What age was Connelly in 86?

                  • And a quick bit of research shows Connelly is 51, McGillis is 64, so Cruise is midway between the two.

                    • Ah that blank message was me replying to your what age was Jennifer connelly and I answered that she was 14 but somehow that didn’t appear. Weird.

                    • Aha, that makes sense. I was watching Cinema sins on Top Gun, and they mentioned the Penny Benjamin character, so it’s a nice bit of retro-thinking by the Maverick producers to grab that line of dialogue and create a major character from it. I guess Maverick was punching above his weight with Charlie, and it was unlikely to last, and he settles down with Penny instead. I’m still gobsmacked that Jennifer Connelly is in her 50’s, there’s not much evidence of that in the new film…

  4. Complaints are never pointless. I would be launching air-to-air missiles all over this one.

    “has arrives”

    Where does this one rank alongside Boba’s Burgers?

  5. “A direct hit”


    The only thing I know about the original is the line “Talk to me, Goose”. I don’t even have context 🙂

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