Top Gun: Maverick

This movie blew me away. It’s one of the most riveting action movies I’ve seen in a long time. I walked out of the movie smiling and practically skipping I was so pumped up. It’s the first movie I’ve seen in a while that makes me want to go back and see it again in the theater.

This movie is a sequel to the mediocre 80’s movie, but it is so vastly superior to that movie in every way that it is laughable to compare the two. The new film picks up with Tom Cruise’s Maverick almost 40 years after the original film. He’s an old fashioned man faced with a changing world. He is called back to Top Gun flight school to train a new crop of hot shots for an extremely perilous mission.

Just that outline is better than everything in the original film. This movie has clear stakes. It has a theme and a real story to tell about its main character. On top of all that the action is amazing! They shot the film inside real fighters. They have real weight and force behind them. The geography is never in question. We always know exactly where our heroes are and where they’re going and where the danger is. It’s a back to basics style of action filmmaking. Establish the stakes. Create clear geography. Throw a bunch of increasingly dangerous obstacles at our heroes. It’s absolutely riveting. This movie had me on the edge of my seat. I was absolutely enthralled by these fighter scenes.

Aside from the action the film tells a deeply compelling story. Maverick is an old man now, although you’d never know it Cruise has hardly aged a day. Yet Maverick finds himself in roughly the same place he was in the 80’s. He’s a captain who is highly decorated, but refuses to advance. He is stuck in the past. He’s haunted by the death of his friend Goose depicted in the first film. When he returns to Top Gun he is confronted by Goose’s son called Rooster, played by Miles Teller. These two have a history that pushes them both to the breaking point. They challenge each other and learn from each other through the story.

Maverick has to come to terms with the passage of time, and in one incredibly poignant scene with Val Kilmer the movie rings real tears from me. It helps knowing that Val Kilmer had a two year battle with throat cancer that took his voice from him. Seeing him in this film carries a lot of emotional weight on its own, but allowing him and Cruise the time and space to act and allow the years to fill the silence between them is incredible to see. It is a powerful moment that elevates the movie and makes true the old idiom, “I laughed, I cried, I was thrilled by the movie.”

Now it’s not a perfect movie. A lot of the dialogue is clunky and cheesy, and there are a couple of story developments that left me groaning inwardly wondering how they were going to pull it off. Surprisingly they did pull it off. I was totally in on this movie. It wrapped me up and pulled me through any negatives and sent me out the door flying high and feeling excited. This was a great time at the movies.

I know Hollywood will take away the wrong lesson from this movie, and we’ll see a whole slew of sequels to 80’s movies. But what they should do is making rousing crowd pleasing movies that give us clear action, good characters, and compelling stories. It’s not Top Gun. It’s not the 80’s. It’s not nostalgia. What makes this movie work is the craft of the filmmaking, the quality of the story telling, and the enthusiasm of the cast and crew. We need more of that in todays movies.

Go check this one out. It was an awesome movie experience, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s is my cup of tea 1,000%. A

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