Thirty years after the events of top gun, Test pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is called back to the legendary Nay Flight School to train a new group of pilots for a dangerous mission. When he learns that one of his students is the son (Miles Teller) of his former wingman “Goose,” he must face his past while embarking on a mission that may require the ultimate sacrifice. Also stars Jennifer Connolly and Val Kilmer. Directed by Joseph Kosinski.
After a spate of disappointing sequels to classic films, who could have guessed that Tom Cruise’s long-delayed sequel to his 1986 classic would be that rare sequel to surpass the original in almost every way?
Top Gun: Maverick does everything you’d expect from a sequel: it captures the spirit of the original, offers meaningful character arcs, and continues the story logically. It’s also incredibly entertaining and doesn’t forget its purpose. Credit to director Joseph Kosinski for focusing the film’s plot and characters, and to Tom Cruise himself for providing the perfect artistic vision as executive producer. As the bonus features make clear, Cruise has ensured that this film honors the original and offers audiences a cinematic experience like no other.
There is no moral ambiguity here; no tortured, sympathetic villain to complicate the moral dilemma. There are bad boys, good boys and a mission that must succeed. In today’s increasingly complicated world, the film’s fleeting, entertaining simplicity is refreshing. This isn’t seedy or jingoistic unmusical action, and thankfully the filmmakers didn’t make this film unnecessarily overdone or condescending in a misguided attempt to be a high-profile concept.
The film picks up over 30 years after the original film, and Pete Mitchell is still a captain thanks to his inability to clash with authority. He’s now a test pilot for experimental aircraft, until the Navy calls him with a new assignment: he’s called back to Top Gun to instruct the Navy’s top pilots on a secret mission to destroy an enemy base. However, one of the pilots is Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Teller), the son of his late co-pilot
Although the film follows many of the same steps as the first, the film never feels like a makeover. It never disappoints and is always entertaining. The final mission, while getting a bit unlikely, is way too much fun to criticize.
It’s nice to see a film that lives up to the hype of its marketing. Top Gun: Maverick deserves its place as the king of blockbusters. Everything you heard about loner true: it’s a damn good movie. Buy it, crank up the speakers, and feel the need all over again.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
That Top Gun: Maverick Blu-ray offers an impressive transmission with excellent details and rich colors. Much of the film was shot in 6K using IMAX cameras, and you get every detail here. Even for a mere 1080p Blu-ray, the level of detail here is remarkable, although I have to admit this is a film that benefits from a 4K broadcast with HDR. Regardless, the Blu-ray offers a picture of the highest caliber, with natural yellows and golds throughout the beautiful sunset scenes and popping whites and grays, but especially in the snow scenes towards the end of the film. Aspect ratios shift from standard 2.39:1 to IMAX 1.90:1 for the action scenes. The aerial sequences are amazing to watch. Absolutely perfect.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is excellent, making full use of the jet sequences, with high-pitched screeches and sonic booms that rattle my speakers and wow viewers. The channel distribution is solid and the music never sounded better. The fidelity levels presented here are fantastic. For a movie that needs to be watched repeatedly, the audio (and video) provide a cinema-like experience that few discs can match.
The Blu-ray contains over 110 minutes of bonus material, including a number of promotional features produced over the two years the film awaited release. There are many nice glimpses behind the scenes here. Note: Some of the bonus features are only available digitally, so be sure to redeem your code to access them. We will indicate where features are available. Kudos to Paramount for taking the trouble to add more features digitally where storage space isn’t an issue.
The special functions include:
“Approved for Withdrawal” featurette. Tom Cruise and producer Jerry Bruckheimer made it their mission to practically shoot the fighter jet scenes. This featurette examines how the production worked with Navy aviators to capture the action. Cruise and the cast are interviewed and shown in their rigorous training to sit in an F-18 in flight and pull multiple Gs. Amazingly, Cruise (who is a pilot himself) created the training program for the actors. Running time: 9:15 Available on disc and digital.
“Breaking New Ground – Filming Top Gun: Maverick” Featurette. No other film has been made quite like Top Gun: Maverick, and this featurette examines how the groundbreaking aerial sequences were captured with purpose-built cameras. Running time: 7:56 Available on disc and digital.
Featurette “A Love Letter to Aviation”. Tom Cruise’s passion for flying is the driving force behind the film, and that includes his personal WWII era P-51 Mustang vintage aircraft featured in the film. This featurette celebrates his love of flying and sees him flying the P-51 with Jennifer Connolly. Running time: 4:48 Available on disc and digital.
Featurette “Forging The Darkstar”. The producers of loner has teamed up with the design department at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works to create the fictional plane The Darkstar, an experimental plane capable of flying at Mach 10 that will be featured in the film. Running time: 7:31 Available on disc and digital.
“Master Class with Tom Cruise” Featurette. Cruise was honored with this seated discussion in front of a live audience at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s a fascinating discussion that goes much deeper than most of Cruise’s interviews. Running time: 49:05 Only available digitally.
James Corden’s Top Gun Training with Tom Cruise – Extended Edition featurette. There are some funny moments in this extended version of a skit from Corden’s late night show. I’m not a huge fan of Corden, so I found most of it annoying. Running time: 26:42 Only available digitally.
Hold My Hand music video. Listen to Lady Gaga’s hit single from the film’s soundtrack here. It’s an old MTV style video and the song is great. Running time: 3:53 Available on disc and digital.
“I Ain’t Worried” music video. The OneRepublic single featured in the film is included here, with the band’s performance being edited with scenes from the film. Running time: 2:37 Available on disc and digital.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One teaser trailer. The first look at Tom Cruise’s other mega franchise is here. Kittridge is back! Theatrical release in July 2023. Running time: 2:17 Only available digitally.
“Mission Impossible Trailer Introduction” Featurette. Made for CinemaCon attendees only, this special introduction to the Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One trailer features Cruise on a biplane. He’s a crazy man. Running time: 3:54 Only available digitally.
Top Gun: Maverick Trailer #2 Includes the final trailer for the film. Running time: 2:24 Only available digitally.
digital copy. A code is included for a digital copy of the film, redeemable via VUDU and iTunes/Apple TV.
Bonus Rating: 5 out of 5
CONCLUSION: Top Gun: Maverick is a blockbuster that lives up to its hype
Top Gun: Maverick is better than the original film and one of the most entertaining films in recent memory. The technical presentation is perfect. The hype is real. Just buy the movie.
Final score: 5 out of 5
Release date: November 1, 2022
Running time: 130 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description
Subtitles: English, English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Portuguese, Spanish