“Top Gun: Maverick” Soars Beyond Expectations


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Tom Cruise, starring as Maverick in “Top Gun: Maverick”, is joined with Chris McQuarrie, Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Commander, Naval Air Forces, Joe Kosinski, and Jerry Bruckheimer at the advance premiere.

“It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot.”

Top Gun Maverick, the sensation of the 2022 summer, continues the Top Gun saga with an impressive cast of Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, and Monica Barbaro. Together, this team helps convey the tight bond between aviator and wingman as well as the beauty of flight, leaving viewers ready to buckle up and take off! 

This past summer, Joseph Kosinski’s Top Gun: Maverick hit fans of the original Top Gun (1986) with a breathtaking, astonishing, and cinematically brilliant sequel. Despite arriving more than 30 years after its precursor, it somehow picks up right where it left off—minus a few key characters. The poignant loss of Goose—wingman and comrade to Pete Mitchel (“Maverick”), portrayed by Tom Cruise—still impacts the contemporary story as Goose’s son (Miles Teller) takes on the role of aviator in the newest mission.

The film begins with Maverick exhibiting both his supreme flying skills and his rambunctious defiance of the rules—revealing that some things truly haven’t changed at all. Summoned to the Top Gun fighting school as punishment after getting into trouble with the administration, he’s assigned to train a select group of young pilots to perform an urgent, life-or-death mission all while confronting his past.

This necessity to tie up loose ends—both in his strained relationship with Goose’s son (call-name “Rooster”) and with his on-and-off girlfriend (Jennifer Connely)—plays a crucial role in this film. It specifically concentrates on Mav’s fatherly sense of protection over Rooster, and how sometimes, only “letting go” of the past yields true reconciliation. But don’t worry, “letting go” doesn’t mean abandoning the sentimental nostalgia that has drawn so many viewers to the original film. 

Somehow, this sequel evokes this keen sense of nostalgia without crashing and burning. Equipped, like the first one, with a perplexing mission objective and super high stakes, it pleases airplane connoisseurs and adrenaline junkies at once, while also having enough dialogue and romance to make it a real story, not just a montage of Tom Cruise flying scenes (captivating as they are). 

While the second installment of the modern classic does offer a sense of reconciliation between Maverick and Rooster, it leaves the audience with a semi-abrupt ending. We don’t get to see the ins and outs of the mended relationship between the two. The future seems open and tentative. Nonetheless, the incomplete end to the film lays the foundation for yet another potential installment which hopefully will clear up the ambiguity that persists even through the last scene. 

The film touched on the romantic life of the Top Gun pilots, but the writers (deliberately) abstained from making it a focal point in the lives of the new Top Gun students. For “Phoenix” (Monica Barbaro) especially, they built a capable female character without focusing on her gender or including a love interest. Phoenix’s presence in the movie surely adds a progressive twist to the male-dominated film, even though she’s granted limited screen time and minimal character development. 

Furthermore, the focus on the friendship between the pilots, rather than romance, results in a sense of camaraderie that transcends the shallow flirtatiousness present in most movies, encapsulating the relationship between a pilot and his or her “wingman” as an unbreakable bond.

While nostalgics might lament the omission of certain key characters from the first movie—most notably Charlie Blackwood (Maverick’s previous love interest played by Kelly McGillis) and Goose’s wife (played by Meg Ryan), there’s no use dwelling on the past. Again, the theme of “letting go” of the past—without forgetting it—still rings true. 

This film beautifully transforms a movie that typified the 90s into a contemporary classic that addresses real-life issues, touching on the complexities of relationships and the significance of history therein.

Those seeking a perfect feeling of 90s nostalgia—but refined with modern technology—will revel in this sensation. People often say “they don’t make them like they used to.” Perhaps Top Gun: Maverick will prove them wrong.