Top Gun: Maverick Delivers The Goods (A Fan’s Review)

So, yes, it’s a biased review. I’ll get that out of the way first. But I believe that’s the case for most people going in: nobody is unbiased regarding Top Gun. You either love it or hate it. But nobody is ambivalent about it. Nobody’s lukewarm about it. And the latest entry into the Tom Cruise universe (yes, it’s a thing… for me) absolutely kills. Top Gun: Maverick is pretty great. But not perfect.

A Bit of History

Top Gun was released in 1986. I was born in 1985. When I was a kid growing up in Paraguay, we got everything late. This included action films. So when I was 9 or 10 years old, we started getting Top Gun, Predator, Rambo, and other action classics from the 80s. And for me, Top Gun was the best of the lot. So much so, that I wanted to be Maverick. I wanted to be a naval aviator flying F-14s off of a carrier deck.

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I soon learned that the Paraguayan Navy does not have many ships, let alone air planes. In fact, the Air Force doesn’t even have jets. I almost gave up. But then, Donald Bellisario‘s (Magnum, P.I., Airwolf) J.A.G. came along, and once again my passion for flying went through the roof. I even went into the Army Cadets hoping that I’d become an Air Force pilot. It didn’t pan out: the Paraguayan military was abusive and corrupt, so I got the hell out of dodge. But I never forgot J.A.G. or Top Gun. So when they announced a sequel to the 1986 Tom Cruise classic, I was all in.

The Film

Tom Cruise has become a bit of a living legend because… well, he actually is. Regardless of what you think of his beliefs and stuff, he’s a bit of a living Tony Stark: he’s a certified jet pilot, he races motorcycles, he free climbs mountains… the guy is totally nuts. And this nuttery adds a sense of realism to his films that you just don’t get when you constantly have to cut to body doubles and stunt actors.

Top Gun: Maverick hits on a lot of the same points as the original, including the relationship with Goose, a female interest, and of course, the need for speed.

In terms of the aerial combat and actual military stuff, the film surpasses its predecessor. There are female aviators, even. How modern is that? But in all seriousness, the flying is much more realistic to how maneuvers work in dog-fighting, and the politics of military brass are much more nuanced. As a militariana fanatic, I was very pleased with what Maverick brought to the table.

But emotionally, there were some stumbles. I won’t spoil anything, but the relationships don’t feel quite as connected. And the impact is further lessened by a soundtrack that is less memorable than that of the original. The latter point does have its advantages though: the dogfights feature mostly real sounds from the cockpit, rather than blasting music, and this provides a much more real sense of immersion during tentpole scenes.

The Verdict

This is one easy film to review, to be honest. If you liked Top Gun, you’ll like Top Gun: Maverick. It provides improvements in realism over its predecessor, even if the emotional beats have a lower thud in your icky, bitty heart. If you did not like Top Gun, or don’t like Tom Cruise, this film won’t win you over. This is a fan’s film, through and through. And I love it for that.

About Marcos Codas 260 Articles
Lover of portable gaming and horror cinema. Indie filmmaker and game developer. Multimedia producer. Born in Paraguay, raised in Canada. Huge fan of "The Blair Witch Project", and "Sonic 3D Blast". Deputy head at Vita Player and its parent organization, Infinite Frontiers. Like what I do? Donate a coffee: https://www.paypal.me/marcoscodas

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