Top Gun: Maverick

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Top Gun: Maverick
dir Joseph Kosinski
scr Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie
prd Jerry Bruckheimer, David Ellison, Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie
with Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, Val Kilmer, Ed Harris, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Bashir Salahuddin, Lewis Pullman, Danny Ramirez, Jay Ellis
release US/UK 27.May.22
22/US Paramount 2h11

teller hamm kilmer

See also:
Top Gun Maverick (2022)

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cruise and connelly
Recapturing that gut-level rush of entertainment more than 35 years later, this sequel to the 1986 blockbuster increases the visceral quality of the aerial action while also taking time for some manly tears. With virtually every shot awash in nostalgia, the movie brings such a glut of adrenaline that most fans won't notice how terrible the script is, with its preposterous plot, clunky expository dialog and paint-by-numbers emotions.
For three decades, Maverick (Cruise) has happily sidestepped promotions to remain a fighter pilot. Then a grouchy admiral (Harris) assigns him to return to Top Gun to train pilots for an urgently perilous operation. Maverick's students are the cream of the crop, cocky and talented, and he's shaken to find that his late pal Goose's son Rooster (Teller) is one of them, and Hangman (Powell) is so arrogant that he's clearly going to cause trouble. With Admiral Cyclone (Hamm) on his back, Maverick is running out of time to prepare his pilots for the mission.
Impressively, the actors maintain straight faces when discussing the ludicrous assault plan. The "uranium lab" they need to bomb in "enemy territory" has a Death Star-like design flaw, complete with trench-like approach and crazily half-baked escape plan. Of course, Maverick simply ignores rules and orders (it's in his nickname) and repeatedly proves the haters wrong. Thankfully, the shots of actors in planes are genuinely dizzying, impressively vertiginous and properly get the blood pumping.

Cruise easily slips back into both the role and the wardrobe. His swagger may be more mature, but he can still play shirtless beach football with the kids. And when he's vulnerable, Cruise reminds us what a great actor he can be. Maverick's romance with an old flame only barely clicks, but Cruise generates some chemistry with the sparky Connelly, who gets little to do but spout pointed plot details. Teller is terrific in a beefy role that almost has a character arc. Kilmer positively shines as he briefly reprises Iceman. And Hamm makes the most of an underwritten baddie.

Carefully structured to continually require outrageously exciting airborne antics, the plot feels more like a collection of blockbuster sequel elements than an actual film screenplay. It's so carefully concocted that true suspense is impossible, and we're almost unsurprised when it climaxes in one of the most appallingly contrived action finales in recent memory. Not that most viewers will notice, because they'll be too busy cheering at the great whoosh of each jet engine.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 18.May.22

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Top Gun

Review by Rich Cline

Top Gun
dir Tony Scott
scr Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr
prd Jerry Bruckheimer, Don Simpson
with Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt, Michael Ironside, John Stockwell, Meg Ryan
release US 16.May.86,
UK 3.Oct.86
86/US Paramount 1h50

See also:
Top Gun Maverick (2022)

Now streaming...
cruise and edwards
The original print review from Shadows on the Wall Vol II No 4, 30 May 1986:

Finally, a film I really enjoyed! Top Gun is a rousing, exciting adventure starring Tom Cruise as the best of the best Navy pilots.

Cruise is perfectly cast here (as opposed to [the recently released] Legend), and his character is given a surprising depth. He's a feisty, unruly and very likeable pilot.

The supporting cast, most notably Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer as fellow pilots, is also excellent. Kilmer plays the bad guy so that you never really hate him. Quite a refreshing change.

A romantic subplot involving Cruise and Kelly McGillis nearly unravels the film. It blurs the focus of the plot and stretches the limits of a PG rating. But it does add a nice emotional counterpoint.

cert pg language, violence, sex May.86

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© 1986 and 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall