Top Gun: Maverick

80s revival for the win

I went into Top Gun: Maverick warily. I’m not a fan of military films (being raised an air force brat) and I didn’t like the 1986 original. 

Maverick knocked its senior of 36 years out of the park.

COVID-19 took away a lot, including the cinema. With the return of hot buttered popcorn and maskless movies comes some normalcy. Top Gun: Maverick trumpeted this change in force.

I don’t care what anybody says about Tom Cruise; the man makes a fine film. Where the original was loaded with gratuitous aerial fights and cringe bro-vibes, the sequel was captivating with just a hint of nostalgia.

Take it to the sky

Top Gun: Maverick, to understate, is a better film than the 1986 Top Gun. And it’s not even close. (Mandy King)

One of the most interesting things about Maverick is the realism in the fighter jets. Watching actors take off at intense speeds is totally believable. It looks like the struggle is real. Because some of it is.

To prepare actors for those scenes, Cruise had them train in small prop planes and F-18s on loan from the United States Department of Defense. The F-18s cost $11 thousand an hour to rent. I guess with Maverick earning more than $1.4 billion worldwide, the investment was worthwhile.

A perfect cast

The casting in Maverick is also praiseworthy. Miles Teller, playing the late Goose’s son, is perfect for the goofy yet charming father/son comparison (especially with the stache). Glen Powell as Jake “Hangman” Seresin plays up to the pretty boy versus tough guy trope of Maverick and Iceman from the original.

Speaking of Iceman, the bromance between him and Maverick is much better established in the sequel. As another nostalgic reminder of the original, it has aged well.

Val Kilmer played Iceman in the original and it’s nice to see him back on the big screen. In 2014, Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent a tracheotomy. Iceman, now a high-ranking admiral, suffers the same disease in Maverick.

To speak with Maverick, he types on a computer. The one line of dialogue he delivers orally was digitally altered by production to sound like Kilmer’s real voice. It’s amazing what technology can do and it makes the scene that much more heartwarming. 

It’s not all golden

I’m quick to sing the praises of the latest Cruise flick, but I can’t say the entire thing was a success.  

Jennifer Connelly did a fine job personifying the briefly mentioned Penny Benjamin of the first film. But the relationship is unnecessary and a tad confusing. The couple appeared to be little more than good friends, which I think would have been a better route. Instead, the romance gets lost in other, more meaningful relationships.

The love scene is an example of how misplaced the romantic element is in the Maverick-Penny relationship. When the two finally take things upstairs, it starts with kissing. But suddenly Connelly’s in a robe and it’s over. 

I understand the aim of a family-friendly rating, but that bedroom scene is weak. In an interview with USA Today, director Joseph Kosinski explained the scene as depicting a more mature, emotional relationship. I don’t buy it.

I’d watch it again

The test of a good movie for me always involves the question, “Would I watch it again?” For Maverick, the answer is: absolutely!

As Dalhousie University students make the big transition from summer to school, it’s nice to have a few films in your back pocket to unwind with. If you’re looking for something with edge-of-the-seat action and a top-notch cast, I recommend Maverick.My one word of advice when taking on the flick? Don’t bother watching the original. If you already have, my sympathies. But if not, read the plot summary on Wikipedia and get right into the good stuff.

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Mandy King

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