• Ken Silvers

Top Gun: Maverick


In 1986 the film "Top Gun" burst onto theater screens, and despite mixed reactions from critics became a smash hit with audiences and in 2015 the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry. So it's hard to believe it took 36 years to get a sequel, but we now have one with "Top Gun: Maverick". Tom Cruise returns as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, a role he made iconic in the original film. Maverick is still serving in the U.S. Navy as a test pilot and has avoided promotion so he can continue flying. Maverick is confronted with bad news in the film as he learns Rear Admiral Chester "Hammer" Cain (Ed Harris) plans to shut down the hypersonic "Darkstar" scramjet program in order to direct funds to various drone programs. Being the rebel he has always been, Maverick takes flight without permission in one of the scramjets in order to prove he can reach Mach 10 speed. He manages to reach Mach 10, but decides to push the jet further with disastrous results. While Cain wants to ground Maverick for good, his long time friend and former rival Admiral Tom "Iceman" Kazansky (Val Kilmer), manages to get him assigned to train an elite group of F/A 18E/ Super Hornet pilots. The pilots need to be trained to bomb a uranium enrichment facility of an unnamed rouge country, and the assignment comes with great risk and extreme danger. Most of the pilots are well grounded, save for the cocky and extremely confident Lieutenant Jake "Hangman" Seresin (Glen Powell), who is always at odds with fellow pilot Lieutenant Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller), who is the son of Maverick's late RIO and best friend Nick "Goose" Bradshaw. Rooster's relationship with Maverick has been precarious as he was blocked for several years from entering the Naval Academy by Maverick who made a promise to Rooster's mom to delay his entry. At first the pilots doubt Maverick is any better than they are, but after seeing him in action they quickly realize they are under the leadership of the very best. The training for the mission continues with both failures and successes, and during the process Maverick discovers he is a good instructor despite his initial doubts. After the intense training continues, Maverick and his pupils are ready to begin the mission despite developing doubts by Rooster who is a bit shaken due to Hangman's constant badgering of him. The mission is very thrilling and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The film has many flashbacks and salutes to the first film, and there is a great and touching scene between Iceman and Maverick that will go down in cinema history. Also showing up in the film is the character of Penny (Jennifer Connelly), who was only mentioned in the first film, and Connelly has wonderful onscreen chemistry with Cruise. One of the many great parts of the first film was the soundtrack, which received 9xPlatinum status, thus leaving this film a hard act to follow. The soundtrack of the new film doesn't disappoint, with Lady Gaga on board among others. When it comes to his movies, Cruise doesn't play, and as we have learned over the years does most if not all of his own stunts, and is a pilot. One very interesting aspect of the film is the fact the actors had to learn how to run cameras because they had to direct themselves when they were up in the jets. Cruise is again wonderful in the role of Maverick, and his younger co-stars are all effective, and are not overshadowed by Cruise. As I have said in the past, if you looked up the meaning of "movie star", I'm sure Cruise would be front and center as he has mastered the art. "Top Gun:Maverick" had me laughing, crying, feeling tense, and ready to cheer at the end of the film. Not only is this a great action film, it has heart at its core, and is one of the best movies of the summer, and be sure to see it on the big screen. Now playing in theaters. (Rated PG-13)

5/5