5 very good reasons why Top Gun: Maverick is a triumphant blockbuster (no spoilers)

With Top Gun: Maverick now on release in Cineworld cinemas, we're here to tell you why it's an unmissable theatrical experience.

Before you roll your eyes, hear us out. The movie is really great fun and resurrects a particular style of filmmaking that ought not to fall by the wayside.

Scroll down to find out more.

 

1. It feels like an analog movie in a digital era

And we mean that in the best possible way. What happened to movies with practical effects and outsized emotion that borders, unashamedly, on cheesiness? What became of the films that were built entirely around a singular star persona, as opposed to an existing franchise or IP?

Top Gun: Maverick resurrects these deliciously pleasurable notions. Much has been made of how Tom Cruise got his Top Gun: Maverick co-stars to fly in their own jets and film their own footage. But the movie radiates old-school sincerity throughout, refusing to undercut its emotive scenes with a tiresomely self-conscious quip. Although there are jokes, brilliant ones, throughout the movie, they're timed in such a way that chimes with the narrative, and it never feels like the movie is getting self-consciously embarrassed about its mushiness on the audience's behalf.

The pacing of director Joseph Kosinski's editing is luxuriant but never cumbersome, allowing us to drink in the various character arcs and set-pieces without boredom setting in or choppiness threatening to make it coherent. And in the form of Tom Cruise, it has the most profound kind of special effect imaginable, an old-school movie star who wears his screen iconography and cinematic baggage with pride.

 


2. Tom Cruise re-asserts his position as the chief aviator

It's been 36 years since Cruise last bestrode the screen as the grinning Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell. The original Top Gun cemented Tom Cruise as a brand in and of his own right, and he seems to be part of a dying breed of old-school movie star.

Think about it: how many veteran Hollywood actors have managed to maintain their screen iconography over such a sustained period? The likes of Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep leap to mind, and preceding them, one clearly ought to credit Clint Eastwood.

In short, Cruise is one of our few surviving links to a bygone age of Hollywood in which an actor's inherent charisma is what informed, and sold, the movie in question. By this stage in his career, Cruise, now knocking on 60, is able to lean into and exploit the star image with which we're now so familiar.

The opening scene in Top Gun: Maverick reveals an isolated Maverick working on a prop aircraft in a Mojave Desert hangar. It can be seen as a self-referential statement as to who Cruise really is. He's long been an actor fiercely, even scarily, dedicated to the practical craft of acting and stuntwork, a technician who may threaten to get lost amidst the CGI clutter of modern-day filmmaking.

One also senses that famous grin is now carefully calibrated and delivered for maximum strategic impact. In short, Cruise is acutely perceptive as to how the audience sees him. With four decades of experience as Hollywood's reigning A-lister, how could he not?

But it's the combination of that self-mocking humour, combined with a surprisingly emotive sense of Maverick's vulnerabilities (no doubt tied into Cruise's advancing years) that really sells us on Maverick's return.

 


3. The in-flight footage is truly gripping

Lensed by Claudio Miranda in IMAX, the aerial sequences in Top Gun: Maverick make the original movie look like a child's simulation. With the advance of IMAX technology, drone footage and digital capture, the interior of an F-14 Tomcat fighter jet has never felt more tactile.

As mentioned, the film is goosed by the fact that this was all done for real. When we can relax into the idea of practical effects and stunts, it invests us more in the drama. We're made all the more aware that actors and stunt persons went the extra mile, potentially risking life and limb in the process.

Whereas the original Top Gun was little more than a series of ironically cheesy set-pieces (albeit fun ones), Top Gun: Maverick actually possesses a narrative that increases in tension as we approach the end game.

By threading in the aerial sequences bit by bit over the course of two hours, Kosinski and Cruise have us anticipating the remarkable climactic sequence long before it arrives. And when it does, rest assured, one's heart will be in one's mouth.


4. The young cast members inhabit their roles in fascinating ways

Without giving anything away, Miles Teller is superb as the conflicted Rooster, the son of Maverick's late wingman Goose (Anthony Edwards). The on-screen history between Rooster and Maverick adds soulful depth to Top Gun: Maverick, albeit in broad strokes ways with massive, emotive close-ups often filling the screen in the manner of a Spaghetti Western.

However, this is part and parcel of what makes the movie so charming. The movie isn't about to apologise for how upfront it is in dealing with the operatic weight of history. Occasional flashbacks to the first movie, or even a poignant close-up of an old photograph, make us aware of how much history is bearing down on Maverick, despite his exuberant, devil-may-care exterior.

Not to be outdone, Glen Powell also shines in his role as Hangman, the cocky and presumptive heir apparent to Maverick's one-time Top Gun crown. And yet even his character gets moments of sensitivity and heartbreak. 

But it's not all about the young generation. Jennifer Connelly brings soulful charm to the role of Penny, Maverick's one-time partner who now runs a local bar. It's refreshing to see a Hollywood movie that pivots around two relatively mature actors, and both Cruise and Connelly are capable of communicating a great deal without saying anything.

 


5. The soundtrack hits all the right notes

The original Top Gun had Kenny Loggins, Berlin and Harold Faltermeyer. Minus the presence of Berlin, the gang is back together for Top Gun: Maverick, this time bolstered by Oscar-winning Dune composer Hans Zimmer and score producer Lorne Balfe (who composed Mission: Impossible - Fallout).

There are, of course, strategic blasts of Faltermeyer and Loggins' work, the latter's 'Danger Zone' bound to evoke nostalgic cheers during an early sequence. Appropriately enough, Zimmer and Balfe's score feels like it was pulled from the early synth era that was contemporaneous with the original Top Gun, washing over us in waves of ambient warmth before occasionally pounding with aggressive drums during the combat sequences.

And just when we thought it couldn't get any better, Lady Gaga arrives to deliver her stirring end credits number, 'Hold My Hand', which becomes an anthem of empowering nostalgia. Are we sensing another Best Original Song Oscar in the works?

 

Are you ready to take the ride? Then click here to book your tickets for Top Gun: Maverick, on release now in Cineworld cinemas.

Already seen it? Tweet us your breathless reactions @Cineworld.