Today: April 17, 2024

Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick is unquestionably one of the most exhilarating cinematic experiences not just this year but in recent memory. What Tom Cruise and director Joseph Kosiniski created in the visual prowess of the flight sequences in the film are, to say the least, jaw-dropping. So does it hold up on the home viewing format?

When Maverick (Cruise) is assigned back to Top Gun to train a group of young pilots for a deadly mission he must confront the ghosts of his past in the form of his former co-pilot Goose’s son Rooster (Miles Teller). As it becomes clear this is a suicide misssion Maverick has to decide where his loyalties lie, to the mission or to his determination to put his comrades first.

For all the original Top Gun’s brilliance it is nonetheless a flawed film. More often than not while the aerial footage is impressive for its era it’s clear the actors are rarely, if ever, in the fighter jets themselves. The same is not true of Top Gun: Maverick. In the envelope-pushing hands of Mr. Cruise it’s a surprise he didn’t send himself and his fellow castmates into actual aerial battle. Instead he seems to have compromised and simply put them all in actual fighter jets to bring a level of authenticity rarely if ever seen since the advent of computer generated effects if not before.

Maverick is a blistering ride of a film. Sure, some of the ‘wow’ factor is slightly lost without a darkened cinema, booming surround sound and a screen big enough to make you feel as if you’re in the pilot’s seat yourself but thankfully the story and thrills remain true. To be clear, this is not a cerebral film, this is not a film designed to challenge you in any way shape or form. This is a film that asks you to strap in, sit back and enjoy the ride. And in an age where ‘the ride’ often feels like a video game featuring your favourite celebrities this isn’t just a step up, it’s in a different league.

Because now matter how hard you try and guess what is real and what is computer generated it’s near impossible. Every action scene is breathless, every dog-fight head-spinning and every missile or flare launch eye-popping.

But what should also be flagged is Maverick is not just a thrilling experience, it hooks you in just as much on plot and character. So much so that come the grand finale your nerves are shredded as to who might live and who might go the way of Goose. Is it broad and brash, yes, do you care if you’re having this much fun? NO!

Top Gun: Maverick is a pure joy of a film, as close to a cockpit as most of us would want to get and with enough emotional investment to fuel the afterburners from start to finish. 

Top Gun: Maverick is available now to Download & Keep and on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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Top Gun: Maverick

Legacy sequels are all the rage in Hollywood right now. Cashing in on a decades old piece of IP is a sure fire way to get bums on seats at a time when cinema is struggling. But for every Blade Runner 2049 there’s an Independence Day: Resurgence. So it is with some trepidation one goes into Top Gun: Maverick. Given it’s been over 35 years since Tom Cruise donned the iconic Maverick call-sign it would be easy to have done a sequel with nothing but a cashed-in cameo from Cruise. But, and this point cannot be stressed enough, this is Tom Cruise, the man doesn’t do things by halves.

Having been canned by the Top Gun programme Pete Mitchell (Cruise) finds himself as a test-pilot still living life on the edge. When he takes his latest test a little too far he’s recruited back to Top Gun to train a team of former Top Gun pilots for a mission more dangerous than any of them have encountered. Amongst the rag-tag team of pilots is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller) the son of Maverick’s former co-pilot Goose and the two must face their past to put the mission first.

It’s easy to dismiss the original Top Gun as just another ‘80s action film. But to do so is a mistake, it is a film utterly representative of its era, it was the film that cemented Cruise as the biggest film star on the planet – a title he’s arguably never given up nearly 40 years later – and was one of the first mega-hits for Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer.

To live up to its legacy was always going to be a tall order. Thankfully, Maverick is nothing short of a spectacular, jaw-dropping and utterly brilliant thrill-ride of a blockbuster film. It does everything you need a film of this nature to do. It pays homage to the original in all the right ways. It develops its original characters in all the right ways. It introduces new characters that you invest in to such an extent that, if they so choose, could easily carry the franchise forward. 

Huge credit should go to writers Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and, long-term Cruise collaborator, Christopher McQuarrie for conjuring a story that takes the concept of Top Gun and elevates it. This is exactly what a sequel has to be, capturing the essence of the original while upping the ante.

And while the story hooks you in it is the action that grips like a vice around your heart. What director Joseph Kosinski, and in no small part Cruise himself, have created from an action point of view is not just incredible, it’s something never seen before. It puts you front and center of what it’s like to be in a jet fighter, extreme G-force and all. Some action sequences are so eye-poppingly real you have to remind yourself to breathe. Tony Scott’s – who this film is lovingly dedicated to – original Top Gun felt so fresh with its aerial photography, this film pushes that envelope to new levels, levels that one suspects Tony would be punching the air with adrenaline like the rest of us.

The cast all play their parts admirably. Jennifer Connelly is typically radiant as Maverick’s former flame. Monica Barbaro and Glen Powell enliven their characters with great charm and Bashir Salahuddin and Charles Parnell manage to make otherwise tertiary characters supremely memorable and invested with huge emotion. Meanwhile Teller shows why he was at one point Hollywood hot-property, his ability to be both charming and flawed is perfect here. But this is a Tom Cruise film. Through and through. What always made his performance as Maverick so captivating was the way in which he finely balanced pure cockiness with inner-turmoil. So essential was his original Maverick to cinema it became almost an archetype in modern cinema. Here Cruise’s performance is just as nuanced, still cocky, still with that arrogant glint in his eye but always brimming with guilt and responsibility to his team. It’s such an engrossing performance it creates a level of tension as to what might happen.

Hands down one of the most satisfying, put a smile on your face and a tear in your eye blockbusters in a long, long time. Top Gun: Maverick is pure cinematic nirvana that takes you all the way to the danger zone, and back again.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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Top Gun Maverick

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