Top Gun: Maverick

A Zoomer’s Hot Take on Top Gun: Maverick – Faulty or Favourable?

Dept. of Generational Gaps


I bet you’re reading the title of this review thinking, here goes another Gen-Z with her pretentious film knowledge ready to take a massive dump on a beloved film. And you’re not wrong on some accounts. I will probably strike a nerve or two. Or several, depending on how slighted you get. 

Don’t write me off just yet though. There is a happy ending to this, I swear.

But first, the nasty stuff…

Top Gun: Maverick

The first Top Gun instalment, to put it lightly, was not my cup of tea. I wasn’t sure what story it was trying to tell, or if it had one at all. And besides the gorgeous soundtrack and stunning aerial sequences (arguably the few redeeming factors), everything else fell flat on its face. The romance felt stilted. The banter was uninteresting. The stakes were barely present. And the film felt like a testosterone fest of sweaty, shirtless scenes that served no real purpose besides luring in female viewers. I had to play the film over 2x speed and it still didn’t feel fast enough.

While Top Gun doesn’t feel dated, the film exists in its own bubble. A Cold War relic. One that lived and thrived in a time when soaring the skies and taking down MiGs was the dream. Or riding off into the sunset on your Kawasaki with a gorgeous instructor on your back. It is a quintessential 80s film, in all of its camp and virile glory. So if you couldn’t ride the Top Gun highs back then, trying to relive that magic almost 36 years later feels hollow and pointless. 

Which brings me to this sequel.

So, What’s the Verdict on Maverick?

Top Gun: Maverick

To the surprise of everyone, including myself, Top Gun: Maverick was a riot. I cheered way too loudly. I blinked back several tears. I held my breath during that pivotal scene. And I left the theatre almost reeling with joy. 

We catch up with Maverick three decades on, still nursing that rebel streak that lands him in incessant hot water. If it weren’t for the constant bailouts by an old friend, he would have been long gone from the navy. But Maverick is at the end of the line and forced to accept one final TOPGUN mission or face a dishonourable discharge. Tasked to school an elite group of aviators for what can be described as a super high stakes mission (yes, there are real actual stakes this time!), Maverick has to confront the uncomfortable reality of sending his pilots to their potential demise. Especially when one of them is the son of his late best friend, Goose. It’s Maverick like we’ve never seen him before, and he is an absolute triumph.

I didn’t love Top Gun: Maverick because it was an inherently perfect film. I loved it because, for the first time, I saw what the fuss was all about. If Top Gun felt diluted in aspects of plot development and emotional stakes, Maverick simply amplified on those very aspects. It satisfied every box that the first instalment left unchecked. The film isn’t weaponised with nostalgia nor overclouded with fanservice in a way that makes it subservient to its predecessor. There is an originality to this narrative and Maverick’s role in it plays out organically. It’s as if the 36 year-gap were non-existent.

That’s not to say time hasn’t been its friend. A sequel like this couldn’t have achieved the narrative glory it has if it were made in the 1990s or 2000s. There is something so uniquely universal about this instalment, in how it panders to the needs of the OG fanboys, and also re-introduces Maverick to the next generation of viewers, myself included.

The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Top Gun: Maverick

I also found Maverick far more agreeable in this film. Without the youthful hubris of his chocolate boy looks or his self-serving bravado. There is a clarity to his character. The Maverick magnetism still persists in his defiance, hotshot piloting skills, and romantic conquests, but Top Gun: Maverick teases different shades out of the ageing captain. As a no-nonsense instructor, as a guilt-stricken friend, and as a surrogate father. All of which add emotional weight to the story it’s trying to tell.

His romantic arc is given room to grow, alongside the equally charming Jennifer Connelly. It’s not overly hot-and-heavy or underscored behind sensual music, but it retains its own life beyond the scope of the first film. And of course, no one can do action sequences quite like Tom Cruise can, and he knows it. The film is truly a labour of love, and his commitment to realism translates in his performance. Coupled with heart-pounding aerial stunts and stunning practical effects that continue to raise the bar, Tom Cruise and his team have defied the impossible yet again.

While I can’t sing songs about Top Gun in the same way as it’s follow-up, I can finally take a trip on the nostalgia train along with everyone else. Top Gun: Maverick isn’t a caricature of its namesake in the way most sequels are. It is a sequel worthy of capturing our hearts and minds nearly four decades later, updated to the times yet still reminiscent of its fond beginnings. It is truly the cinematic blockbuster of the summer.

You can listen to us talk about Top Gun: Maverick on The Goggler Podcast. You can also read our review of the movie here.

Top Gun: Maverick is now playing in Malaysian cinemas. Check it out, this might just be the film that unites the warring generations.

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