TV/Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ (dir. Joseph Kosinski)

A heart-racing and breathtaking ride from start to finish, and, dare I say, it took my breath away.

A heart-racing and breathtaking ride from start to finish, and, dare I say, it took my breath away.

While Top Gun: Maverick is the perfect homage to the original film, this sequel capitalizes on the story established years ago, while building upon those relationships and connections in really meaningful and impactful ways.

Right off the bat, the opening sequence mirrors the signature intro style that captivated us all with the original Top Gun. Films nowadays are so fast to get into the action that it can feel like an SNL cold open when you start watching a movie. Not Top Gun: Maverick. It takes its time to ease into the story and the action that comes with it because it knows that once it starts, it won’t let up until the end.

The cast is phenomenal. I just know this casting budget was outrageous. Tom Cruise is obviously the leading frontman here, and Val Kilmer returns for a beyond emotional callback.

Jennifer Connelly is jettisoned into the cast in a somewhat jarring way initially, but it ends up smoothing its way out.

Jon Hamm and Ed Harris bring such an interesting opposition to the story. They offer a personality that contradicts Tom Cruise’s character and is entirely perpendicular to his instantaneous reaction instincts.

Miles Teller is incredible in this, and his emotion is palpable and easily translated through his character.

Bashir Salahuddin and Charles Parnell offer up a sense of humanity in a field dominated by stone figures of people, so their involvement was definitely welcome.

It’s almost like they rounded up a list of every attractive, muscular-built, young man acting in Hollywood and said, “Hire them all.” Glen Powell, Jay Ellis, Lewis Pullman, Danny Ramirez, Manny Jacinto, Jake Picking, and Greg Tarzan Davis. Obviously some of these actors have more prominent roles than others, with some maintaining a consistent presence throughout the film (Powell, Ellis, Pullman, Ramirez) and others given very few, if any, lines at all (Tarzan Davis, Jacinto, Picking).

Monica Barbaro deserves to be the next big thing. In a role that could have easily just been a checklist achievement of having a female figure in a group dominated by men. We’ve seen it before: a blockbuster movie throwing in a woman simply for the ~representation~ without actually giving that character anything significant or of any real substance to do. Not in Top Gun: Maverick though. Barbaro is truly just as essential a character as Miles Teller or Tom Cruise.

There was a lot to live up to in terms of the music and soundtrack, but it more than delivers in that department. For me personally, the Kenny Loggins song “Danger Zone” and Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” are synonymous with Top Gun. There are very few films with the musical legacy that film has endured. While we do get a callback to the original with “Danger Zone” near the beginning, Maverick was sure to carve out its own path sonically.

With touches of “Hold My Hand” interlaced in dramatic, orchestral ways throughout the score leading up to the climactic final moments, the Lady Gaga song satisfyingly soars in the final moments of the film. This isn’t just a “plays over the end credits” song, though. It felt like the movie had been building up to this exact moment. “Hold My Hand” feels like an awards-worthy song just listening to it on Spotify, but hearing it in the context of the film gives it a whole new meaning.

There is another original song featured in this film during a lighthearted, fun moment on the beach. An original song from OneRepublic plays over a carefree game of beach football. Ryan Tedder’s vocal range, smooth high notes, and clever wordplay are on full display here, and it perfectly suits the moment.

The cinematography is breathtaking and makes magnificent use of the scenery while being sure not to miss out on any of the dramatics each scene presented. The cinematic air combat is relentless in demanding the audience’s attention. The thrill… the energy… it’s all there, and it’s all next level.

If you’re among the group of people tired of seeing low quality CGI and poorly edited green screen graphics, then this film will set you on the right path. The aircraft are really flying that quickly. They’re really flying that low to the ground. They’re really that close to one another. How they choreographed this and were able to stage this for the cameras is beyond me, but it’s one of the highlights that makes this film believable and true.

If there was any film that I would say you absolutely must see in IMAX, I would definitely pick Top Gun: Maverick. It is such a showcase in film.

Walking out of my screening, aside from the fact that I was trying to catch my breath from what felt like exhilarating ride at an amusement park, I wanted to watch as much behind-the-scenes footage I could to see how they brought this story to life. This has to be some of the most impressive aerial footage known to man. How they achieved this is an accomplishment of its own. How did they shoot the aerial shots? How did they really get the actors in that aircraft? I had so many questions, and I hope they release some BTS content ASAP.

Top Gun: Maverick deserves to be the next big summer box office smash. Coming 36 years after the original, there was pressure to capitalize on the nostalgia, offer up something original, and prove why we really needed a sequel at all. In each of those areas, it excels.

Will there be a Top Gun: Rooster or a Top Gun: Hangman in our future? I could definitely see it, but only time will tell.

Top Gun: Maverick opens in theaters everywhere this Friday, May 27.


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