Top Gun: Maverick movie poster

Top Gun: Maverick

In theaters May 24, 2022


137 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , , ,

It’s wild to think that it will have been 13,157 days since Top Gun premiered and when the long-awaited sequel, Top Gun: Maverick releases on May 24, 2022 — the longest gap in a live-action film series ever. That excruciating period of time made only longer when the follow-up film originally slated to premiere in July 2020 was delayed for a pesky pandemic. Most sequels never rise to the level of the first with many even tarnishing a treasure with so much time between films, it’s fair to ask, “why mess with perfection?”

Taking place 30+ years after Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) lost his best friend, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards), in a tragic accident and subsequently shot down three MiGs to become part of Top Gun lore, Maverick is called back to Top Gun. After an unsuccessful run as an instructor (you may remember that he chose to remain at Top Gun at the end of the first film), Maverick’s services are needed to teach 12 of the best fighter pilots, including Goose’s son, Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller in his best role since Whiplash), how to succeed in taking out an enemy underground bunker destined to contain a uranium stockpile — and not have it end as a suicide mission.

Despite his death decades earlier, Goose looms large in Top Gun: Maverick. Still haunted by his passing, Maverick is seemingly stuck in the past — still a Captain and still a bachelor with no family to call his own. Photos of Goose are never far and Maverick talks to him as if he were right next to him. And then there’s Goose’s kid, Rooster, and his disdain for Maverick. Despite trying to always do what’s best for Rooster, the chill in the room when the two are together can be felt in theater seats. With only weeks until their mission, the cards are seemingly stacked against Maverick.

Top Gun: Maverick introduces a slew of new supporting characters, but only a few stand out among the large cast. Hangman (Glen Powell) has just the right mix of Maverick and Iceman’s (Val Kilmer) cockiness to both hate and love him. Warlock (Charles Parnell) plays perfectly off of Vice-Admiral Cyclone (Jon Hamm). But perhaps no character is as likable as Hondo (Bashir Salahuddin), Maverick’s test director and best friend — a guy you instantly root for and wish had a bigger role.

Even the best films have a few missteps and Top Gun: Maverick is not immune. Hamm is a great actor as seen in AMC’s Mad Men, but here his presence is lost. Despite the joy of bringing Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) to life — fans of the original will remember Maverick slept with Penny, the admiral’s unseen daughter — Cruise and Connelly lack the chemistry that radiated on screen between Cruise and Kelly McGillis in the first film. They do, however, make for the most beautiful couple on screen today. Perhaps most out of place is a too far-fetched plot twist in between dogfights near the end. Director Joseph Kosinski brings it all together to tears and applause, but the few-minutes scene takes away from an otherwise outstanding and plausible 137 minutes.

No matter what you think about Tom Cruise, you can’t deny that he knows how to make an entertaining movie. His smile lights up the screen and his charisma is untouchable. With nearly $8.5 billion at the worldwide box office, Cruise hasn’t met a stunt he won’t try — even extending that to his acting colleagues in Maverick with each required to undergo pilot training and underwater safety in order to provide realism to every scene. Six 4K cameras were installed in each F-18 and the actors were required to set and control each while in the air.

Kosinski filmed over 800 hours of footage — a number equal to the footage of all of the Lord of the Rings films and clearly picked only the best for the final cut. Top Gun: Maverick is a beautiful film. An homage to its predecessor yet still carving out a place for it in cinema history. Fans of the first film will get goosebumps with the first note of the “Top Gun Anthem” and feel them again each time Top Gun: Maverick harkens back to the 1986 masterpiece or mentions Goose’s name.

Hollywood tends to save its Academy Award-winning films until the end of the year, but Top Gun: Maverick is so good that it may be the rare summer film that has it amongst the best come December. Also included? Lady Gaga who may not just hear her name called once, but twice! Her powerful anthem “Hold My Hand” manages to leapfrog the iconic “Take My Breath Away” and her accompanying score can only be described with one word: perfection.

While making fans wait 36 years for a sequel may seem a bit much, Top Gun: Maverick is a film worthy of the wait, the perfect complement to the original and lives up to every bit of the hype and then some.

Top Gun: Maverick is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Mark Eaton
Mark is an entertainment junkie, spending much of his leisure time watching movies, TV, or listening to any and all genres of music. Most evenings, after finishing a day of work and hanging with his wife and kids, Mark can be found in an eternal battle with his DVR, trying to clear it before another 5-6 hours of shows are recorded the next day. Still reeling from his unpaid gig for the Detroit News where he was fired for being too cruel with his American Idol recaps, Mark is thrilled to be sharing his wicked sense of humor with Movie Reelists.

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