Top Gun: Maverick – Woo!

I’m not the world’s greatest movie critic. My rating scale is simple:

  • Hated it.
  • One big okay.
  • Good.
  • Awesome. I recommend it. 48 hours later, I’m still thinking about it.

Top Gun: Maverick strikes all the right notes for me. The first official trailer dropped in 2019. There’s a nostalgia factor for me that’s off the charts. The franchise anthem gives me goose bumps. I’m a sucker for action films (I’ve watched a lot of bad ones). Most of the action films I like were made in the 1980s. The movie industry had a few great action stars, clear and compelling villains that could play off our foreign policy concerns, and the limits on special effects kept run times between 90 minutes and two hours.

Top Gun was one of those “good” action films that I enjoyed as a young person, albeit in the edited-for-television format. The first movie debuted when I was seven years old. But Kenny Loggins’ hit “Danger Zone” had been cemented in my mind thanks to radio play, and as a Nintendo kid, the 1987 Konami Game was a staple among my friends.

I also am a fan of Tom Cruise. Like a lot of people, his acts of insanity in the early 2000s turned me away from a while. But after Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation, and my enjoyment of his performance in Edge of Tomorrow (science fiction is another favorite genre of mine), I was back on board. I was happy to see him back in the role of Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, too. I wanted to see what an older Cruise would bring to the character. I wasn’t disappointed.

Top Gun: Maverick has a lot of throw-backs to the original film. A friend said that the movie lacked the number of great one-liners the original film had, and that the score wasn’t as good. He immediately went to the comparison game. But both movies can be great, in their own way.

This film has a faceless, nameless enemy. It has a battle plot that exactly parallels the final run on the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope (also known as “Star Wars“).

It contains a romance subplot between Mitchell and Penny Benjamin, a single mom and local bar owner, played by Jennifer Connelly.

The main plot driver is that of the relationship between Captain Mitchell and Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, son of Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, whom we know from the original film. Not only does Mitchell still carry feelings of guilt from Goose’s death, he sees himself as a failed father-figure for Rooster, too, and is resented for it.

The film also comments on the need for the older generation to hand the baton to an emerging generation, and old debates over technology–its use, advantages, and disadvantages. In this film, the case is made for the human pilot over and against drone technology.

And it all works.

When this movie was over and the credits rolled, I had seen everything I had wanted. There was great action, character development, and plenty of thrills. This movie was a wonderful depiction of the miracle of aviation, the valor of military service, the stakes in warfare, was filled with incredible camerawork and stunning color, had moments of humor and tenderness, and was a lot of fun. Molly liked it, too.

It was awesome. I recommend it. More than 48 hours later, I’m still thinking about it.