I’ve racked my brains on how to write this review without it falling into a random stream of superlatives and to be honest I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it. But to save time and energy, I’m not going to bury the lede and just say that Top Gun: Maverick is not only one of the best movies of this year, it’s also one of the best action movies of the last decade. It’s one of those films that is so good and connected with audiences in such a way that even though it’s now available on Blu-ray, 4K UHD and DVD, you can still see it in cinemas.
I had no idea how much I loved the original Top Gun until this movie started and a surge of emotion hit me like pulling 9G in an F-18 Super Hornet. Tears started to form in my eyes after the first bars of the music kicked in and to be honest it didn’t let up for the next 130 minutes.
It’s been more than 30 years since we last saw US Navy Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) complete the Top Gun program. He’s still in the Navy and should be an admiral by now, but all he ever wanted to do was fly. Now he’s a test pilot living in the desert flying top-secret experimental jets. The film’s opening sequence, in which he accelerates a supersonic jet to Mach 10, is absolutely breathtaking.
The plot is pretty simple. A nation hostile to the United States has hidden an unauthorized uranium enrichment facility in a heavily fortified mountainous region. The Navy has received orders to destroy it. Maverick is tasked with returning to Top Gun this time as an instructor to train the newest elite pilots for this dangerous mission. It’s an elegantly written setup and the bets are perfectly clear. Please note other blockbusters.
That’s done with the thrill, how about some heart now. Maverick was recommended for this mission by Admiral Kazansky (Val Kilmer), better known to us as “Iceman”. Their scenes together will melt your heart. Returning to Miramar, California, Maverick will also reunite with Penny (Jennifer Connelly), one of his old flames. Finally, one of the candidates for the mission is “Rooster” (Miles Teller), the son of Mav’s dead best friend and former flying partner “Goose”. Amidst all the spectacular aviation action, it’s the complex relationship between Maverick and Rooster – the guilt, the fear, the broken promises – that gives the film its true emotional punch.
But even if you just came for the spectacular flight action, you won’t be disappointed. Director Joseph Kosinski and cameraman Claudio Miranda have broken new ground in the field of cinematic fighter jet combat. Their collaboration in the massively underrated 2013 sci-fi thriller Oblivion gave us a glimpse of their superbly stylized visual skills, but they take it to a whole new level with Top Gun: Maverick.
One criticism that has rightly been leveled at many blockbusters over the last decade (superhero films have been particularly guilty) is that the final acts have been mostly awful. Many good movies have come and gone that just turn into a CGI fuckathon. You don’t get that here. The commitment to making everything real, developing cameras capable of capturing cinematic images from inside a real fighter jet gives this film a unique feel and pays off in spectacular ways.
I can’t think of a film in recent years that has a better ending than this one. From the minute the mission begins until the credits start, it’s just an unrelenting assault on your senses and emotions. So exciting, so tense and so full of emotion that it will have your heart pounding for most of the final act. But most of all, the cue is so clear and the heart-pounding action so vivid that it reminds you of the days when action movies were made by people who knew what they were doing. Fortunately, Joseph Kosinski is one of them.
As of this writing, Top Gun: Maverick is the biggest movie of 2022. James Cameron (one of those guys who knows how to direct action) might have something to say on that in a couple of weeks, but nothing else right now is this year TG:M came close. At the beginning of the year, I don’t think anyone would have predicted that. A sequel 36 years later that grossed nearly $1.5 billion? It sounds crazy. But I really think the success of this film speaks volumes about what audiences have come to expect from tentpole blockbusters like this: classic filmmaking, elegant storytelling, and lively, beautifully choreographed action. It’s the perfect blockbuster.
The disc includes over 30 minutes of bonus content and begins with “Cleared for Take Off,” a behind-the-scenes featurette of Tom Cruise’s vision for the sequel, which basically boiled down to one thing: If we do it, we do it it really. This has a lot of cool stuff centered around the challenges the filmmakers and the US Navy faced in how to outfit the F-18 fighter jets with cameras while also bringing the cast of real pilots into the cockpits.
Breaking New Ground – Filming Top Gun: Maverick takes us further behind the scenes and shows how they had to design and build special cameras to get the sensational images we see in the film. There’s also footage of the cine-jet they used, with a camera mounted on its nose, and the incredible ground-to-air footage that was captured.
A Love Letter to Aviation is more of a love letter to Tom Cruise with a lot of people talking about how awesome he is and what a great pilot he is, which gets a little tiring, but I think he’s pretty awesome. Forging the Darkstar takes us behind the scenes of the film’s amazing opening scene. Finally, the disc is rounded off with the music videos for “I Ain’t Worried” by Onerepublic and “Hold My Hand” by Lady Gaga.
Top Gun: Maverick is now available as Download & Keep, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD.
Pour: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman Director: Joseph Kosinsky Writer: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie Published by: Supreme home entertainment Certificate: 12 Duration: 130 minutes Release date: 31 October 2022