There really isn’t anyone like Tom Cruise, is there? Whatever you think about his non-public persona or life, there’s no denying that he has been the biggest star on the planet since the mid-80s and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, he truly is the last remaining movie star. Yes, there are lots of stars plying their trade right now – think Dwayne Johnson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, even Meryl Streep – but none have the sheer star power that Cruise showcases around the world. Truly, he is a titan. Truly, no one else does what he does. Truly, no one else could have guided Top Gun: Maverick to being the sensational success story it is.
Thirty years have passed and Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) is out of Top Gun but still part of the Navy, overseeing their stealth flight programme. However, his unique abilities and skills could be the key to a new mission and is recruited back by his old friend Iceman (Val Kilmer), not the Commander of the programme. He’s no teacher but he is the only one seen fit for purpose to put a new group of recruits (Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, and more) through their paces against a well-drilled and mighty enemy, whose technology outpaces theirs. Still, Maverick’s charms and recklessness, even three decades on, may just be their key to victory.
Much has already been made about the film’s practical and special effects, as well as Cruise’s determination to film as much as they could up in the sky but Top Gun: Maverick has the unenviable record of being the longest promoted film of all time, at least in recent memory. The pandemic wreaked havoc with the film’s release: it was on again, off again, on-again, off-again but Cruise and co stuck to their (top) guns and promised a film built for the big screen ON the big screen with no chance of streaming at any price. That resistance – which, in the early days, probably felt like the only way to release the film, but their resistance and patience were rewarded and so are we. Every facet of the film is a success and will leave you both breathless and wanting an immediate second go-round.
A cataclysmic achievement in filmmaking, Maverick feels strangely old school not just in the way it’s made but also how it feels: with the perfect blend of humour, heart, emotion, music, and revisits to its past, it’s the ultimate summer blockbuster cocktail, for now, and for any year. Sharply brought to life by Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Tron: Legacy), it’s a bombastic, exhilarating thrill ride that’s honestly better than anything a rollercoaster could throw at you and then some, and is even loosely an allegory for the current state of cinema as an art form, that maybe old school will always be needed in a new age. Fuelled by Cruise‘s usual charisma and panache, balanced with some great turns from Teller, Connelly, and Powell, this certainly feeds your need for speed and catapults you into the danger zone and beyond. Exceptional, beautiful cinema.
Action, Thriller | 2022 | Paramount Pictures, Skydance | Dir: Joseph Kosinski | Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Val Kilmer