In recent years, with sequels that are many years after the original, the trend has been to rely on the huge name recognition and popularity of the original movie and forego the most important things: the story and the screenplay. Not this time. “Top Gun Maverick” has a great story and screenplay and is a very well made movie, worthy of the original Top Gun released in 1986. This film started production in 2018 – 2019 and was ready for release in 2020 and due to Covid the delay has been over 2 years. Top Gun Maverick may have set the record for not only the longest delays, but the longest period of time – 36 years – from the original to the sequel.
The main story is very well done, with Maverick, played by Tom Cruise being called back to the Top Gun training school to teach the best Navy Pilots to accomplish an almost impossible and dangerous task of blowing up a nuclear facility deep within the mountains of some unnamed foreign country. The flying required of diving down close to the ground, dropping a bomb and then diving up causing 10G forces required extremely impressive special effects, both during the training scenes and the very well done climax. Once again, Tom Cruise and many of his young co-stars did some of their own stunts, risking their lives to make a movie. One can easily argue that Tom Cruise should have won 2 Academy Awards for “A Few Good Men”, 1992, and “Born on the Fourth of July” 1990. But there is no doubt that Tom Cruise is by far the best stunt man in the history of movies. He has already risked his life many times in previous Mission Impossible productions, with two more in the Pipeline “Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning, part 1 and 2”, set to be released in 2023 and 2024. Any fan of Tom Cruise cannot help worrying that maybe one day his risk taking with all of these films may one day be too much. Hopefully that day will never happen. Fundamentally, risk taking should be measured with the obvious realization that “Its only a movie”.
The actor Val Kilmer, who reprises his role as Ice Man in the original Top Gun movie, makes a depressing appearance in this movie. In recent years Val Kilmer has unfortunately almost died of throat cancer and after two tracheotomies, he can no longer eat and now needs a feeding tube. The one scene Kilmer had with Tom Cruise in this movie involved Kilmer typing on a computer and later barely able to talk. In this sequel Ice Man and Maverick are friends; one of the best parts of this sequel. Actor Miles Teller plays the son of Maverick’s close friend Goose who died in the first movie and I thought that the conflicts they had in this story were very real and believable. The remaining case of young Navy Pilots were also outstanding in their roles as was John Ham who played the Admiral in charge of the entire mission.
Actress Jennifer Connelly, plays Tom Cruise's girlfriend, with no mention of Kelly McGillis, Maverick's girlfriend in the original movie - a fact that I considered a harsh reality of the business of movie making.
The Rotten Tomatoes for Top Gun Maverick are an extremely high 97% and I agree with this rating and highly recommend this film.