“Top Gun: Maverick” is a perfect blend of something nostalgic and something new. Director Joseph Kosinski reunites much of the cast from the original ‘80s movie. Tom Cruise returns as the titular character Maverick along with Val Kilmer as Iceman, all while simultaneously keeping the series alive with new blood. Miles Teller stars as Rooster, the son of Goose. Goose was Maverick’s weapons system officer from the first “Top Gun” film.
The movie is set in San Diego, the long-time home of the famous Naval Fighter Weapons School. Maverick has serially avoided promotions in order to stay in the cockpit of a fighter jet for as long as possible. He’s called up for one last mission that only he is capable of. He must train a new generation of fighter pilots to fly an impossible mission through hostile airspace to strike a uranium enrichment facility operating in complete disregard for international law.
Usually, one would praise a movie for its spectacularly realistic CGI, but Kosinski and Cruise went above and beyond to make sure as many shots as possible were real. They used shots of real F/A-18 Super Hornets flying off real aircraft carriers. To make things more authentic, actors were actually in the seats of these jets with the navy keeping a close eye since they are government aircraft. The only time the film used CGI for the planes was in the climactic battle between the fifth-generation Russian-made SU-57 and the fourth-generation American F-14, the star of the first movie. Since both planes are available only in limited numbers and none of them are operated by countries that are friendly with the United States, it was impossible to get shots of them flying together. Without knowing this it would be very easy to assume that the planes were real.
The final key element was the outstanding soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer. Unsurprisingly, his magnificent score brings the visuals and acting performance together., and undercuts each moment with a driving intensity. The soundtrack from the original film was repurposed, with the iconic “Top Gun Anthem” by Harold Faltermeyer playing an important part. Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” also makes an appearance by opening the film up with a blast from the past and highlighting the classic carrier operations scene. As a final treat for the ears, when we are first introduced to the imposing figure of the fifth-generation SU-57., Zimmer’s soundtrack kicks in with the menacing, bassy rumble of “Tally Two.”. All in all, the score is perfectly crafted and timed to accentuate the action and emotion of the film. It is the perfect cherry on top.
Sequels can be a risky endeavor, especially when there’s been a lot of time since the first film. Nostalgia may cloud the eyes of viewers, causing a certain distaste for what can sometimes be viewed as a manipulative cash grab. Fortunately for the major sequel event of the summer, that is not the case. This film is perfect for someone who enjoys fast-paced action and a simple, easy-to-follow story. It’s a seat gripper for the entire two-hour runtime, making for a wonderful theater experience.