Remember the days before Netflix and streaming when a big movie came out and how excited you were? How we rushed to buy tickets to see it in the theatre? What a thrill that was? Of late (especially since the pandemic) going to the cinema has been replaced by the ease and safety of watching films at home. Along comes a film like Top Gun: Maverick (a film which the release was delayed a couple of times) and it reminds us of the good ole days in several ways. Thank you Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Spiderhead) and even bigger props to the ageless Tom Cruise.
If you are a regular reader here you already know that Tom Cruise is not my favourite actor. Not even close. But even as a non-fan, I have to say this was an enjoyable film on several levels. Top Fun has fun, action, crazy flight sequences, some romance, and, most of all, a huge helping of nostalgia. All throughout the film, I kept thinking that this is a total go to the theatre-type film. It has all those things (big, loud, light on story, fun) that brings butts into seats in theatres.
I am sure fans of the first Top Gun were a little trepedacious heading off to the cinema to watch a second film in the series. The first one came out way back in 1986. 36 years have passed since then. Films have changed. We have all got older (maybe except for Tom Cruise). Would a film like this still connect with an audience is the question? Well, the answer is a resounding yes. In just under a month in the cinema, Top Gun: Maverick has already brought in an estimated just under $1 billion. A good return for a film in which the budget was reported a rather respectable (for this time of film) $170 million. People still want to see a film in which a bunch of young men fly fighter planes.
Here top but rebellious Navy fighter pilot Captain Pete Maverick has been given a choice – either to retire from the only job he has done or become a flight instructor for the Navy at Top Gun under Admiral Beau Simpson (Jon Hamm – from elevision’s Mad Man), a man who is definitely not his biggest fan.
When he makes the only choice which allows him to continue flying fighters, Maverick’s life is made even trickier when he is brought back into the life of former flame, Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) and even more precarious, has his deceased best friend Goose’s son, Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), in his son. Rooster blames Maverick for his father’s death.
Though you get a return of Val Kilmer (The Doors, Heat) to the big screen, a luminous (but in a largely token role) Jennifer Connelly (The Rocketeer, House of Sand and Fog), a tiny cameo by Ed Harris (Apollo 13, Pollock), and Miles Teller (Whiplash, Footloose – 2011) singing a cool version of “Great Balls of Fire”, the focus is on Cruise. As he has done in film after film, Cruise comes through. It is almost like no time has past as he slides back into the role of Maverick (and all it demands) seamlessly.
I would have bet against this film being a success….I would have lost my money. Top Gun: Maverick is a throwback to another time in film history. It reminds us why we make the effort to go out to a movie.