Top Gun: Maverick
Stars: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Val Kilmer, John Hamm, Monica Barbaro, Glen Powell
This sequel to the iconic but flimsy Reagan-era adventure is superior to the original in every respect. Tom Cruise playing ‘Tom Cruise’ returns as top navy pilot Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell. Still feeling the need for speed, Mitchell has avoided promotions so he can stay in the pilot’s seat and test the latest planes to their limit, while his contemporaries have worked their way through the ranks. Friend and rival Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky (Kilmer) is now an Admiral, and it’s Kazansky who orders Maverick to train a hotshot band of pilots for a perilous mission where they must navigate a narrow mountainous trench, hit a three metre target, then climb out quickly - a bit like Luke Skywalker’s Death Star run in ‘Star Wars’. When Maverick finds out that the son of his late wingman, Goose, Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw (Teller) – who blames Mitchell for his dad’s death – is part of the mission, he must confront his past.
For the first half hour, with its soundtrack reprisals and fetishistic shots of military hardware viewed through a magic hour haze, it feels like a pandering rehash, but once the nostalgic box-ticking is out of the way, this is a genuinely thrilling, if predictable, adventure, seemingly untouched by the dead hand of CGI effects, with the aerial sequences as spectacular and hair-raising as mooted. Save for a briefly-glimpsed seashore football game, the homoerotic barely-subtext is absent. So too, thankfully, is the gung-ho patriotism and ‘Nam balm of the previous picture, with the enemy pilots’ faces entirely obscured by their opaque black helmets. A face-to-face reunion between Maverick and Iceman is genuinely moving.David Willoughby
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