Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick Is a Pitch Perfect Hollywood Blockbuster

Dept. of Flawless Follow-Ups


There is a point in every writer’s career when they can’t help but spout platitudes. Walking out of Top Gun: Maverick I found myself trapped in one such moment, unwittingly reciting trite, meaningless, and prosaic statements of praise. The movie had me so overwhelmed, so emotionally, physically, and intellectually moved, that it had reduced my proclamations into thought-terminating cliches.

I’m not going to bury the lede. Top Gun: Maverick is flawless. It is, hands down, the best movie I’ve seen this year. Where Top Gun was the template by which all other high-concept blockbusters were built, with Maverick, Tom Cruise and Joseph Kosinski have written the textbook on how to craft the perfect sequel. They have revived these aging archetypes and given them new life, escalated the action, and honored the original without being slavish to it. The movie provides just the right amount of fan service by winking at and nodding towards the first. It makes reference, it pays homage, and it does so without ever coming off as a pale imitation.

Always the Wingman…

Top Gun: Maverick

Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise), now in his fifties, is still a Captain, is still an arrogant, insubordinate sonofabitch, with a penchant towards pissing off authority. At the beginning of the movie, following an absolutely thrilling sequence involving the test flight of an experimental jet, Maverick runs afoul of Ed Harris’ Admiral Cain and is about to be put out to pasture when he is suddenly summoned back to TOPGUN. In what is likely his last deployment, he is tasked with training the academy’s best and brightest for an impossibly dangerous Death Star mission. The conflict here is that one of his trainees is a young pilot called Rooster (Miles Teller), who just happens to be the son of Maverick’s beloved wingman, Goose.

That basic premise is elevated by the movie’s three screenwriters – Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and longtime Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie – into something truly extraordinary. Taking the loosest of plot threads from Top Gun, they successfully weave together Maverick’s guilt over the death of Goose, his own daddy issues, and his desperate need for validation into an intergenerational father/son drama that has absolutely no right to be as soulful as it is.

There is nothing small about this movie. The emotions are sweeping. The action is big. And unlike the CGI slugfests we’ve become so used to seeing in superhero movies, Top Gun: Maverick feels visceral, and grounded, and real. It is a throwback to a bygone era of the Hollywood actioner and a testament to how practical effects are infinitely more thrilling and immersive than anything generated by a computer.

Here, you know that everything you see on screen is as much a show of endurance as it is skill. Tom Cruise puts himself (and all of his actors) through the wringer in every movie that he makes. Tom Cruise is willing to die in order to entertain us. He runs like the wind. He flies planes. He jumps off very high things. All in search for authenticity in an industry that’s built on artifice.

This Is Everything That Cinema Can and Should Be

Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise was right. Top Gun: Maverick is a movie that demands to be seen on the biggest screen and with as many people as possible. Not because it was shot on IMAX cameras. Not because it has some of the best aerial action sequences ever put to film. But because this is a movie that puts forward the most convincing case yet for why cinema is important.

Remember those whispers of surprise upon discovering who Keyser Söze really was. Or that collective gasp when Vice Admiral Holdo rammed through that First Order flagship at light speed. Did you whoop and holler when Captain America picked up Mjölnir in Avengers: Endgame? Or when those three Spider-Men swung into frame in No Way Home?

With its high-octane melodrama, tight plotting, and slick style, Top Gun: Maverick taps into each and every one of those memories and emotions. You will laugh. You will cry. You will pump your fists and beat your chest. You will feel genuinely nervous going into that third act. You will be pushed back into your seat by the sheer force of what is on screen. You will be reminded of why the world needs heroes.

Movies should transform us. They should transport us. They should move us. Yes, cinema should make you think, but even more than that, it should also make you feel. Top Gun: Maverick will make you feel everything.

Click here to listen to our review of Top Gun: Maverick on The Goggler Podcast.

Top Gun: Maverick is now showing in Malaysian cinemas.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Previous Story

The Goggler Podcast #192: Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Next Story

Obi-Wan Kenobi: We Speak to Series Director Deborah Chow

Latest from Movie Reviews