Top Gun: Maverick (Joseph Kosinski, 2022, USA)

Top Gun: Maverick solidifies Tom Cruise's standing as the "last movie star." While the film was highly anticipated, it arrived almost 40-years after a film that - while successful at the time - was not generally that well-regarded from a critical perspective. There were several directions to take with a reboot, including a parodic and self-referential one. Director Joseph Kosinski mainly plays it seriously here, while at the same time striking nostalgic reference points for fans of the original film - including a shirtless beach sports scene. Tom Cruise returns as Captin Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, and this is the Tom Cruise show. While the supporting cast is strong, Cruise is at the front and center the whole time.

Top Gun: Maverick should be commended for its simplicity. In this case, simplicity is a good thing. The entire crux of the film is based around a seemingly impossible mission, which we learn about repeatedly almost from the film's very opening. The details are made so clear, that by the time the action comes, we know exactly where we are and what we are doing in the world of the film. There is no muddledness, no confusion. The film's Star Wars-esque mission is followed by an interesting segue into Mission: Impossible territory. 

While the story hits all the numbers - including a nice small appearance by Val Kilmer reprising his role from the original film - the true star of the film is the aerial work. There is a tactile, physical sense of the experience of flying in this film. If Hollywood big-budget filmmaking is based on spectacle, Top Gun: Maverick delivers on the spectacle and then some. The film is not a masterpiece, but is it remarkably good for a film based on an almost 40-year-old 80s property that was not that great? Yes. 



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