Movie review: Top Gun: Maverick - ridiculous crowd-pleasing fare of the highest calibre

Tom Cruise feels the need for speed in high-flying sequel
Movie review: Top Gun: Maverick - ridiculous crowd-pleasing fare of the highest calibre

Damon Smith

Director Joseph Kosinski, who previously worked with Cruise on the 2013 sci-fi thriller Oblivion, shares his daredevil leading man’s need for speed, orchestrating edge of seat thrills on land and in the air to disprove the theory that sequels linger in the slipstream of the original.

A heavy reliance on physical action sequences rather than digital effects, Cruise is at the controls of almost every flight sequence and co-stars trained extensively in F/A-18 Super Hornets to perform convincingly in cockpits, delivers a pure, unadulterated adrenaline rush of nostalgic pleasure.

It is the kind of escapist fare in which Cruise’s cocksure pilot steals an experimental hypersonic jet and exceeds Mach 10 in direct violation of orders from Ed Harris’s glowering Rear Admiral.

“Your kind is headed for extinction,” snorts the superior officer.

“Maybe so, sir,” retorts Cruise. “But not today!”

 

Ice Man melts

In emotional scenes, Cruise wrings out genuine tears, but he’s almost upstaged by Val Kilmer, who reprises his role as Ice Man and breaks hearts to smithereens with half a dozen lines of tenderly whispered dialogue.

More than 30 years after the death of best friend Goose during their secondment to the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor programme aka Top Gun, Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) is comfortably secluded in a hangar in the Mojave Desert, burnishing his reputation as the only fighter pilot to shoot down three enemy planes in the last 40 years.

Admiral Kazansky (Kilmer), who has been promoted to commander of the US Pacific Fleet, summons Maverick to a mission briefing.

A subterranean uranium enrichment plant on enemy soil, guarded by surface-to-air missiles, poses a grave threat to US national security.

Maverick must train the Navy’s brightest young pilots including Goose’s son “Rooster” (Miles Teller) to fly beneath radar and deliver an explosive payload.

“This will be your last post. You fly for Top Gun or you don’t fly for the Navy ever again,” coldly explains Vice Admiral Simpson (Jon Hamm).

Tom Cruise as Captain Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell. Photo: PA Photo/Paramount Pictures/Scott Garfield

As Maverick pushes trainees to the limits of physical and mental endurance, he rekindles romance with bar owner Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) and confronts deep-rooted guilt over Goose’s death.

“My Dad believed in you,” snarls Rooster. “I’m not going to make the same mistake.”

Top Gun: Maverick is ridiculous crowd-pleasing fare of the highest calibre that places obvious plot discrepancies in the ejector seat (the US Navy plans to bombard an enemy airbase with cruise missiles but no one considers a similar strike on the enrichment plant).

Cruise glows in peak physical fitness, matching the bare-chested swagger of younger co-stars, and he catalyses molten screen chemistry with Connelly.

Jingoistic dialogue tees up the derring-do of a white-knuckle final mission that is admittedly rather protracted.

For once, Maverick ignores the need for speed. - PA

Our rating: 8.5/10

Released in Ireland: May 25th

(12A, 131 mins) Action/Thriller/Romance. Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Jennifer Connelly, Val Kilmer, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris. Director: Joseph Kosinski.

 

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