After numerous delays, including an original release date of July 12, 2019, Top Gun: Maverick lands at the perfect timing for adult audiences seeking a familiar slice of American blockbuster moviemaking. I have an affinity for this series since one of my first nicknames was Kenny Loggins, named after the famous singer who sings “Danger Zone.” I was impressed with what was pulled off because I have been jaded with an onslaught of blockbusters aimed at my demo.
Top Gun: Maverick feels different to me. With many legacy IP movies trying to re-capture the magic in a stale, pandering way, Top Gun: Maverick finds its footing naturally. This somehow feels more confident than the original. A sequel is full of nostalgia and respect for the original, well-earned emotion and adrenaline-soaked action sequences. There’s even a fast-paced sport played on the beach, and this time, women can compete (and wear more clothing than the men)!
A “so ageless it’s impressive,” Tom Cruise reprises his role as Pete Mitchell. Miles Teller was surprisingly terrific as Rooster, who plays the son of Maverick’s wingman Goose, who passed away in the first film. And speaking of original characters, Val Kilmer has a very poignant cameo, reprising his iconic role as Iceman (This is also a good reminder to watch the underrated doc Val on Prime Video). Plus, an enchanting Jennifer Connelly plays an old flame and is stunning in this performance.
Even if Top Gun: Maverick wears its nostalgic heart on its sleeve, this also had a modern sensibility with the younger cast. Honestly, my only complaint is that I wanted more from the supporting characters in the flight simulation training (Greg Tarzan Davis, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Monica Barbaro, and especially Lewis Pullman). Maybe make a third one with that cast more prominently in the movie or a Paramount+ series?
I had to say I was impressed with the directing. How did filmmaker Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, which I wasn’t a fan of at the time but apparently owe a re-watch) make a movie better than the original? Light-hearted with balance humor and proudly loves itself, Top Gun: Maverick is confidently accomplished as a high-quality blockbuster. It was absurdly entertaining during its assured third-act battle that goes to unexpected places. A low-key favorite element is a musical score accompanied by Harold Faltermeyer’s joyful composition, featuring assistance from Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe.
With Top Gun: Maverick finally opening in theaters, this is a must-see experience on premium screens and IMAX. You’ve waited this long, and you will want to see it on the best screen nearest to you, and you will want to go with friends.