“Top Gun: Maverick” Rating: 5/5
In the midst of reviving old franchises, Tom Cruise gives us one of the greatest sequels of all time. 36 years after the original, we find Maverick as one of the Navy’s most decorated pilots. But he rejects promotional opportunities to continue flying. Maverick still struggles with the loss of his friend, Goose. When approached to lead the next generation of Top Gun graduates, he must train Goose’s son and prepare them for a very dangerous mission.
I can honestly say that “Top Gun: Maverick” is one of the best theatrical experiences I’ve ever had. The film glows with nostalgia and provides easter eggs from the original throughout the story. While most films struggle to balance nostalgia with originality, “Maverick” shines as the star on top of the tree.
We see Maverick as a version of himself that feels real. He’s even-tempered, confident and still maintains a high-level skillset. Timing of his legacy sequel feels organic. The story isn’t forced, but features a natural progression over a long period of time.
Each event feels real — admiring Maverick along his journey while appreciating the new pilots that are introduced. Tom Cruise is excellent in his return as the title character. He is surprisingly reserved and avoids many of his over-the-top acting tropes. His performance is humbling and layered, almost as if we’re visiting an old friend from many years ago.
The new cast is excellent too. We don’t spend too much time exploring their backgrounds but are given enough exposition to root for them in the upcoming mission. Each persona brings a fresh edge to the plot. I’d even argue that the cast is stronger than the first.
The score is absolutely phenomenal. We’re treated to the classic theme from the original while getting brilliant selection of new songs to compliment the story. Each piece of music carries the audience from scene to scene. Whether it’s an energetic introduction, emotional sequence, or tense build into the final mission…the score never misses a beat. The sound mixing is amazing, as well. Each time a jet engine turned on, I could feel my seat rumbling along with it.
The editing and visual effects during the jet sequences are truly game changing. Audience members are transported inside the cockpit, feeling the pressure changes and swerving motions while the jet moves. “Top Gun: Maverick” rejects the CGI mess that many modern blockbusters lean into. It instead absorbs the strength of practical effects, going the extra mile to make every aspect of the film feel immersive. Experiences like this remind me why I love movies. We laugh, gasp, tear up and get the adrenaline rush of a lifetime.
“Top Gun: Maverick” made me feel like a kid again, admiring the awe and wonder of being swept up in a grandiose montage of memorable sequences.
The film maintains some of the cheese we’d expect, which wasn’t my favorite part of the original. But it’s significantly toned down, which is a welcomed change. I also feel the third act stretches believability in more ways than one. However, it was easy to overlook with how great the rest of the story was.
“Top Gun: Maverick” provides blockbuster extravaganza with an emotional story at the center. Tom Cruise fought to provide the best possible experience and delivered in stunning fashion.
The film will transcend time because it’s truly that good. I loved this movie so much. Add it to your collection and strap in for the ride of a lifetime!
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