Top Gun: Maverick Review: A High Flying Great Time At The Movies

Top Gun: Maverick is what you want out of big-budget summer blockbusters with insane cinematography and directing that you're going to feel like you're in the cockpit of a fighter plane.

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Summary: After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy's top aviators, Pete Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.

Top Gun: Maverick Review: A High Flying Great Time At The Movies
Top Gun: Maverick Poster. ©2020 Paramount Pictures. All Right Reserved.

A sequel to Top Gun has been in the works for many years, but it took a while for this version to finally get off the ground. Once the movie finally got off the ground and filmed, it ran into release date delays, with Paramount opting to delay it again and again due to COVID-19. They seemed to know that they had something special that needed to be seen on the biggest screen possible, and they were right. Top Gun: Maverick is the kind of movie that does need to be seen on the biggest screen possible with the best sound system you can find. This is a cinematic experience from the ground up, and Paramount was right to delay it.

Director Joseph Kosinski and Academy-award-winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda combined with the continued insistence of star Tom Cruise that they shoot from inside these planes as they really flew around because the man is insistent on driving up insurance costs for Paramount Pictures. While it isn't Cruise or any other cast members piloting a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, it is them in the cockpit experiencing those G's and everything else going. On a big screen, it's nearly impossible not to feel like you're right there with the pilots. Movies are all about making you experience something that you could never experience in your everyday life, and piloting a fighter jet is certainly something most of us don't get the chance to do. Top Gun: Maverick is pure escapism on that fact alone.

Paramount Shifts Top Gun: Maverick, Mission: Impossible 7, and More
Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. ©2020 Paramount Pictures. All Right Reserved.

All of that would make Top Gun: Maverick impressive, but they have also assembled a group of young actors and a few veterans who care about them. Much like a call sign in the Navy can tell you a lot about a pilot with just a word or two, the call signs of these characters can tell you a lot about them. It makes them a bit one-note at times, but the script makes you care about all of them. In the end, while we are here to watch all of these insane plane sequences, they don't work if we don't care about the outcome. It's not just whether or not these pilots are going to complete their mission, it's whether or not they are going to come home alive, and that sort of tension only works if you care about them.

This is a sequel to a movie that came out the same year as this reviewer was born, so there will be aspects here that are knocking on nostalgia's door. However, Top Gun is one of those movies that you likely have a tangential knowledge of even if you've never actually seen it, and there are going to be plenty of people that see Top Gun: Maverick without seeing a single frame of Top Gun. There are a couple of callbacks and moments where it takes the script a moment or two to catch up and realize that it needs to explain who this person is and why they matter to someone who might not know these characters. However, those little fumbles don't come along very often, and the movie does a good job of explaining itself, its motivations, and why Rooster is mad at Maverick, even if it takes a moment.

Top Gun: Maverick Review: A High Flying Great Time At The Movies

The explanation for that relationship tension is handled in an interesting way, and it's one of the times you see the film fighting against being a sequel and trying to be an original movie with little to no ties with the original to have broader appeal. The script is written like it is trying to straddle the line of nudging an audience that knows the secret while also playing its cards close to the chest as if keeping it somewhat a secret from someone who might not know what is going on. It's interesting to see Top Gun: Maverick sometimes wonder which audience it wants to shoot for, the nostalgia or the newer audience, and then decide that they want to do both. It more or less works, but for those familiar with the source material, many things will be similar but with a fresh coat of paint.

Top Gun: Maverick isn't a complicated movie, and it certainly isn't trying to be. However, it might be one of the best examples of the big-screen experience in a long time. The number of movies you can point to and go, "yes, the COVID delays were the right move, this needed a theater," are few and far between, and this is absolutely one of them. It's visceral, a ton of fun, and will make it feel like you're flying through the clouds for a little while until you have to touch back down to the ground — escapism at its finest.

Top Gun: Maverick

Review by Kaitlyn Booth

Top Gun: Maverick is what you want out of big-budget summer blockbusters with insane cinematography and directing that you're going to feel like you're in the cockpit of a fighter plane.

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Kaitlyn BoothAbout Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on Twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on Instagram.
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