Sometimes I can be a story snob. Okay, I can be a story snob a lot. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t appreciate a good summer action flick every once in a while. You know, the kind of film that isn’t trying to say anything particularly deep in stirring, but just gives me a fun thrill that leaves me with a smile on my face.
Top Gun: Maverick accomplished that.
I tried watching the original Top Gun. Ironically, it was on a flight home from vacation. I got about twenty minutes into it before I turned it off, labeling it as the most 80s movie the 80s ever produced. It was so loaded with macho swagger that it became funny to me and I couldn’t take it seriously.
Top Gun: Maverick is a huge improvement over its parent. Here’s the breakdown.
Let’s get this out of the way first: did you know a lot of the flight scenes were filmed on actual flying jets?? They mounted these crazy IMAX cameras all over the jets and actually had pilots fly them to get the dogfighting scenes. Which, by the way, Tom Cruise is licensed to fly. So homeboy was actually up in the sky flying himself, getting filmed in the process. Unbelievable.
Speaking of those dogfighting scenes, the cinematography and sound design are impeccably orchestrated for sequences that make your palms sweat. You feel it in your chest. It’s downright thrilling, and this movie will create a standard for action movies to come.
The acting is solid. A little melodramatic at times, but not enough to take you out of the experience. The soundtrack is good, with some callbacks to the original jams that the movie wouldn’t be complete without. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of callbacks to the original material but never bogs down the story in front of you. It feels like Maverick tips its hat to its predecessor, but doesn’t get hung up on the past. That’s something other franchises could learn from.
What surprised me the most was the amount of heart in this movie. Being the sequel of a film with so much chest-beating, I wasn’t prepared for how authentic and real the characters’ struggles would feel. It’s very human. It’s sincere. And that makes the emotional moments hit just right.
Oh, and Jennifer Connelly can have me. I don’t care how old she is.
There isn’t much bad here. The only thing I can think of is that at the end of the day, Maverick is another one of those semi-disposable action movies. It’s great fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not going to change you or make you look at the world any differently. It’s just great fun.
Also, this movie might be dangerous for the glorification of mustaches. For all stringy, pale men watching this: you’re not going to look like Miles Teller. You’re just gonna look creepy. Think twice. Make the smart choice. Shave that sucker off.
Top Gun: Maverick is the summer action movie nobody asked for but everyone needed. It’s absolutely thrilling, stocked with likable characters, just the right amount of bravado, and a delicious cherry of sincerity on top. This is one that will find a nice home in everybody’s Bluray collections.
Overall score: 8/10