Review – Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun sequel powered by tragedy, unique angles

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Since the release of “Top Gun” in 1986, fans have waited in anticipation for the return of Tom Cruise as Pete Mitchell, call sign Maverick. After a three-year delay from the previous release date of July 19, 2019, fans were finally able to watch “Top Gun: Maverick” in theaters this summer. 

“Top Gun: Maverick” sets off in a familiar Pete Mitchell fashion as Maverick pushes too far in a test mission and causes the destruction of the experimental SR-72 Darkstar hypersonic aircraft even though he was ordered to abort his mission. Charged with insubordination as a result, Maverick is forced to choose between never flying for the Navy again or facing the ghosts of his past to train twelve of Top Gun’s best pilots. 

Maverick, unable to quit flying, takes on the teaching job. From the start, Maverick is challenged with lofty expectations, preparing for a seemingly impossible mission and dissension among the ranks, which sets up a rollercoaster of highs and lows throughout the movie, always keeping us on the edge of our seats. 

Much of the plot is also driven by the guilt Maverick feels for the death of his past co-pilot, Goose, which I thought was done really well because it’s clear that tragedy affects the whole course of the movie. In the movie we see old pictures, brief flashbacks and the biggest blow, which is that Goose’s son, Bradley Bradshaw (aka Rooster), is one of the twelve pilots Maverick is training. When he looks on at Rooster playing “Great Balls of Fire” on the piano just like Goose did, we get a nostalgic flashback of Maverick, Goose and a young Rooster playing and singing that song. In a heartfelt way, this shows us how guilty Maverick still feels for the death of his friend.

Speaking of Rooster, selecting Miles Teller as the actor for this role was a great choice because of how similar he looks to actor Anthony Edwards, who played Goose in the original “Top Gun.” From the slicked hairdo, mustache and Ray-Bans, Teller is a carbon copy of Edwards. Another stand-out actor was Glen Powell. Powell acted as Lieutenant Jake Seresin, call sign Hangman. Hangman was very similar to the previous pilot Iceman with his overconfidence and smug looks, which was another tie back to the original “Top Gun.”

Now we all know the actors are important in a movie, but there is one element that completes a “Top Gun” film: the aircraft. In “Top Gun: Maverick”, we see multiple mind-boggling maneuvers and get to experience what a fighter pilot sees in the aircraft since “Top Gun: Maverick” was filmed from inside actual cockpits. Filming the cockpit view of the fightercraft was a unique element and further immersed the audience into the flight. 

Although there are great stunts in the movie, there are some things in “Top Gun: Maverick” that don’t seem possible. Now, while the maneuvers in the movie were actually done by real pilots, there is one thing that doesn’t sound possible, and that is Maverick surviving his mission in the SR-72 Darkstar. Maverick’s mission was to reach the top speed of mach 10, which is roughly 7,673 miles per hour. This speed has been accomplished in real life, so no surprise there. The questionable part is that the current record speed for safe ejection is 768 miles per hour, which means that Maverick surviving ejection would have been impossible. 

Despite a few too-good-to-be-true stunts, however, “Top Gun: Maverick” is a must-see movie. It does a great job of immersing the audience into the physical and emotional world of a fighter pilot. From the thrill of being in an aircraft to the fearful excitement of combat and mind-boggling maneuvers, you are, in a way, a pilot when you watch this movie. Throughout the movie, you can soar your way through the clouds as a part of the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School, or what the flyers call it: TOP GUN.