Much like the original, “Top Gun: Maverick” is a big jingoistic cartoon. But it’s a fun jingoistic cartoon. I say that as someone that didn’t like the original “Top Gun” so suffice to say I was hesitant going right in to it. After so many years left in film limbo, I was stunned it was so well received, as legacy sequels most of the time fall flat. While “Top Gun: Maverick” isn’t exactly a masterpiece, I could think of worse times to spend with an action movie; it’s definitely one of the better legacy sequels I’ve seen.
After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. Training a detachment of graduates for a special assignment, Maverick must confront the ghosts of his past and his deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who choose to fly it.
“Top Gun: Maverick” for all its faults (that piano scene was so cheesy) is a bang up action movie that does little to tread new water from the original. It is the same it was, right where we left it back in 1986, and Maverick is every bit the same as he was when we left him. Maverick is a man perpetually stuck in the past, not going anywhere, and the movie celebrates that. Hell everyone is asking him throughout the movie to move forward, and stop living in the past. But he’s Maverick, so it’s okay! “Hey, sometimes change can be a bad thing,” says the movie. Joseph Kosinski seems to know exactly what made the original “Top Gun” tick and he attacks the same narrative beats.
He even stages a sandy sports competition with sweaty men. Kosinski channels a lot of the tone and temperament behind “Top Gun” for better and for worse, with so much of the movie being about Tom Cruise’s Maverick. While the movie does pass the baton on to a slew of new youngins, Maverick is the hero of the film who is as untouchable and squeaky clean as Ethan Hunt. Cruise gets a lot of credit for his stunt work as he stages some great aerial scenes. And I loved the brand new cast, including Glenn Powell, and Miles Teller as “Goose’s” now grown up son “Rooster.”
There are a lot of subplots that don’t really go anywhere, which is sad considering how much they’re built up and developed. Did Rooster and Maverick ever reconcile their differences? Did Maverick and Penny’s stale romance ever turn in to anything serious? Will Maverick go somewhere farther or stay behind in the TOPGUN program even in to his old age? “Top Gun: Maverick” nonetheless is a raucous and fun action diversion with some slick editing, top notch direction and genuinely engaging action aplenty. I don’t know if I’d put it in my top ten of 2022, but I wouldn’t balk at re-watching it, either.