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Top Gun: Maverick
In a long belated sequel to one of the biggest blockbuster hits of the 1980s, the seemingly ageless Tom Cruise returns as Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell in TOP GUN: MAVERICK. Guest reviewer SilverBlueSnow is blown away by the spectacle and caught up in the drama of a film that demands to be seen on the big screen.

In an era where remakes are usually a cause for concern, Top Gun: Maverick is a cause for celebration. This film belongs on the big screen and the box office records show that the masses are flocking to their local theatres to see it. I have not seen the original 1986 Top Gun, but this was my most enjoyable blockbuster cinema going experience in a long time!

My interest in film is overwhelmingly in the arthouse/independent category and I see very few blockbuster releases. The big cinema screen offers us the ultimate visual and sound experience, but where there is a big budget there are invariably commercial controls that override artistic expression – post-1980s Hollywood studios became corporations and films are diluted to appeal to the broadest global demographic.

I am a Blu-ray collector, so I predominantly watch films at home, and the local cinema has become a really enjoyable social outing where I can share an experience with friends or loved ones. Although I am wary about commercial Hollywood, I know that occasionally they get it right and the big budget delivers something truly awe-inspiring, like in the case of Blade Runner 2049 (2017) or Dune (2021).

Whereas I admired Tom Cruise in the 1980s and 90s, since then he seems to have focused on establishing and maintaining himself as the greatest box office actor. Gone are the fascinating collaborations with Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson etc, and instead we get mainstream films and a focus on Tom Cruise the daredevil who performs incredible stunts himself and whose box office success gives him enormous control on most of his projects. He has remained dedicated to practical stunt work and this gives his films a visceral and timeless quality – the Mission Impossible franchise is essentially his series for better (exciting set pieces with little or no CGI) or for worse (his Messiah persona which each supporting character reinforces).

Tom Cruice in Top Gun: Maverick

Like I said, I missed the 1986 Top Gun, and but for some reviews that I read, I would not have seen this movie. Thankfully I did, and it was a thrilling movie experience. I did not find myself confused by the storyline, and the flashbacks to the original film gave me the missing pieces that I needed to be able to join the dots together. When Val Kilmer appears in the film I know that my reaction would have been different had I seen the original – ditto the Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly characters. 

The film does a great job at setting up personal stories within a much bigger narrative. We get the Cruise Messiah complex (he is the only one who can do this and all those around him eventually confirm his unique greatness), but here he is reliant on his team, and his relationship with the Miles Teller character is done brilliantly – there is not a false note in how they interact with each other, and the conclusion is well deserved and very satisfying. I felt the same about the Cruise Connelly relationship – there is a genuine warmth and affection to it that I liked.

The cinematography is breath-taking – the F18 cockpit shots look spectacular against the open sky. My research confirmed that the actors were actually in the planes, so their reactions are realistic – obviously the aircraft were being flown by top level air force pilots. Serious work has gone into filming the planes in realistic flight and it is a thrill to experience! It is without a doubt the best aerial fighter pilot footage that I have ever seen. I have read top level air force pilots comment on the film praising the authenticity of the flight sequences  – even the ringing of the bell in the bar is a real thing on airbases!

The story makes concessions to become movie entertainment – the air force management provoke and personalise the mission so that it becomes Cruise vs Them until they recognise his outstanding abilities – but the overall mission and realism of the aircraft scenes leaves us feeling that this is a real mission with life or death stakes. It hits the big emotions as well the more subtle ones.

This is Tom Cruise’s movie – he is the central character who sets the plot in motion. He first appears on screen on his motorbike riding into the air force base and establishing that he is the top dog. Cruise is both larger-than-life and realistically intimate, and I really admired what he achieved here. He is the reason why the airflight sequences were staged realistically, he is the reason why we have little or no CGI, he is the reason why this film has a 120 day cinema run before it can be released on streaming platforms, and he is the real reason why this film has passed the 1 billion dollar threshold (as of 26th June). In a Superhero era, Cruise has shown that human characters can still ignite the public imagination. This film is the number one film so far in 2022, and with two Mission Impossible films coming next year, Cruise shows that he is still relevant at the box office as he enters his fifth decade of movie making.

I loved the film and look forward to getting it on Blu-ray (for those who are 4k ready this will likely be a reference disc) when available and to see if my feelings change on a second viewing. Certain films really benefit from being seen on a big screen and I would include Top Gun: Maverick in this category. I wonder will Tom Cruise ever give us another challenging dramatic role like he did in the first half of his career? Anyway this film hits its target!

Top Gun: Maverick poster
Top Gun: Maverick

USA | China 2022
130 mins
directed by
Joseph Kosinski
produced by
Jerry Bruckheimer
Tom Cruise
David Ellison
Christopher McQuarrie
written by
Ehren Kruger
Eric Warren Singer
Christopher McQuarrie
story by
Peter Craig
Justin Marks
based on characters created by
Jim Cash
Jack Epps Jr.
Claudio Miranda
Eddie Hamilton
Harold Faltermeyer
Lady Gaga
Hans Zimmer
production design
Jeremy Hindle
Tom Cruise
Val Kilmer
Miles Teller
Jennifer Connelly
Bashir Salahuddin
Jon Hamm
Charles Parnell
Monica Barbaro
Lewis Pullman
Jay Ellis
Danny Ramirez
Glen Powell

uk distributor
Paramount Pictures UK
UK release date
27 May 2022
review posted
5 July 2022

See all of SilverBlueSnow's reviews