Once upon a time, 36 years ago, to be precise, a film about a young daredevil loner caused a sensation and turned a young actor into a superstar. Now both return and present what Hollywood stands for at best, a grandiose blockbuster that, especially in Dolby Atmos, presses us into our couch with a big bang. Finally, the countdown is over. Tom Cruise is ready for take-off now on Blu-Ray as Top Gun Maverick.
Tom Cruise deserves great respect for his filmmaking. Often criticized for things that have nothing to do with his work, he has left a deep impression on many people who have had the privilege of meeting him personally.
Hardly any other star is as friendly and takes as much time for his team at the production and his fans on the red carpet as Tom Cruise. He seeks closeness to his audience and sometimes accepts the delay of a premiere screening. For him, it’s about the audience, his fans.
THE TOP GUN MAVERICK PREMIERE
For Top Gun Maverick, Tom Cruise went one step further. This spring, he chosed a special venue for the world premiere, the USS MIDWAY in San Diego. By doing so, Tom Cruise aimed to dedicate the film to all those who made the film possible, the team of the US Navy.
On the USS MIDWAY, which contains the NAVY museum, the Hollywood star thanked the enthusiastic men and women on board for their commitment. Howsoever, he meant not only their support, which made the production of Top Gun Maverick possible but their commitment to protecting the nation.
Just one year ago, few of us would have thought we’d be glad once more to have a well-trained military protecting us from strange aggressors. Since February 24th, however, we have known how fragile peace is in our world. Therefore, Tom Cruise’s gesture was neither pathetic nor exaggerated. In contrast, it was honest and understandable.
TOM CRUISE – SUPERSTAR FOR 40 YEARS
Tom Cruise knows very well what he’s doing. His career started as a young cadet in the movie “Taps” in 1981. Since then, so, for four decades, he has been presenting great movies that are often unparalleled and visionary. He worked as an actor in front of the camera and as a producer behind.
He was one of the very few stars who managed to assert himself in several genres. His repertoire ranges from comedy to tragedy, science fiction and horror, and, of course, to crime and thrillers. There’s no question that action plays a crucial role in almost all his films. As expected, this is also the case with Top Gun Maverick. Let’s take a closer look at it now.
Why did Tom Cruise and Jerry Bruckheimer wait 36 years?
Fortunately, we can gradually forget the last two years in which Corona restricted our lives and great films either completely disappeared or had to remain on hold. Anyway, Tom Cruise and the fans have waited 36 years for the Top Gun sequel. What difference does a two-year delay make? There were many reasons why Cruise couldn’t and wouldn’t continue the story of the irrepressible Pete Mitchell sooner.
First, a modern story had to be found that authentically and comprehensibly continues the adventures of the aged Pete Mitchell and, at the same time, can set new cinematic standards. Just like the original did in 1986.
In order to meet the high demands of Top Gun, the right technology was also required. It does not even mean computer technology. Because Tom Cruise attaches great importance to authenticity and dispenses with CGI (computer animations) wherever possible. We’ll come back to that later.
The technology that made Top Gun Maverick possible.
Rather, it is about aircraft technology. Finally, the Jets play a starring role. At the speed of sound, development has made a rapid leap forward in the last 30 years. However, the latest aircraft model, the F-35, could not be used for Top Gun Maverick because it only offers one seat.
Since Tom Cruise had all aerial scenes shot in real flight, two-seat machines were required. Therefore, Tom Cruise and the team flew in the jets of the F/A-18 Super Hornet series. They reflect a further development on the 80’s model, the F-14 Tomcat, and ensure even more proverbially breathtaking action in the film.
In addition, the development of camera technology was also of crucial importance for Top Gun Maverick. Despite the higher resolution, cameras have become increasingly compact in recent years. It opened completely new horizons for the Top Gun Maverick team.
For example, this technique made it possible to integrate 6 IMAX cameras into the jet cockpits. So far, so good. Because even if this skillful installation allowed it to film the actors in real combat action from a wide variety of perspectives, the cameras still had to be operated somehow.
Tom Cruise turned actors into aviators and cinematographers
Of course, there was no space for a cameraman because someone had to fly the jet. So, the actors, of whom Tom Cruise always expects the max, were not only shaken up and turned upside down at the speed of sound.
Moreover, they also had to learn to operate the cameras at the same time. But he doesn’t expect anything he wouldn’t do himself. Originally, Tom Cruise didn’t want to sign the contract for Top Gun. However, everything changed after a wild ride in an F-14, organized for him by Jerry Bruckheimer in 1986. Since then, Tom Cruise has not shied away from any risks.
Moreover, he has done almost all of the stunts himself. He largely dispenses with CGI. The sterile, perfect computer worlds are not good enough for the Hollywood star. So the actors who wanted to be on board the production literally had to. All had to undergo fast-paced flight training that pushed them to their physical limits. That’s the only way, Tom Cruise is sure, to present the action credibly and take the audience on what is probably the fastest trip the cinema screen has ever seen.
TOM CRUISE ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Right now, on earth, there’s one force of gravity on our bodies, explains Cruise. Two Gs is twice our body weight. Three is three times our body weight. So, if someone who weighs 200 pounds is pulling two Gs, he’s feeling 400 pounds. In this movie, the actors are pulling seven-and-a-half or eight Gs, so if you weigh 200 pounds, that’s going to be 1,600 pounds of force crushing your body, forcing the blood out of your brain.
Your vision closes in, and it forces all the blood down to your legs. You have to train so you don’t go into something called G-LOC, where you go unconscious. You have to build up that tolerance so that you can actually sustain the levels of G-force and be able to fly. I wanted the audience to see and experience the effect of Gs. You can’t [artificially] distort a face like that.
THE BRIEF STORY OF TOP GUN MAVERICK
Many of the actors could be Tom’s children. It’s hard to believe that he celebrated his 60s birthday this July. In Top Gun Maverick, Tom Cruise again portrays the incorrigible and aging ace pilot Pete Mitchell. He still hasn’t found the right way. The daredevil earns his bread and butter as a test pilot. And – how could it be otherwise – he always offends his superiors.
It doesn’t change when Pete is called up to Top Gun Academy again. Ironically, the stubborn loner is here as a teacher. He’ve got the order to prepare a team of young elite pilots for a mission impossible.
ROOSTER aka Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller)
Among the young pilots is Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, who looks a lot like his father. Nick Bradshaw, better known as Ghoose was once Pete Mitchell’s co-pilot and best friend. However, a mission of both ended in a disaster in which Ghoose lost his life.
To this day, Pete is still tormented by what happened in the past. So, how is he supposed to meet Rooster and work with him? Can Bradley forgive him for what happened back then?
We already know Miles Teller from great films like Whiplash, War Dogs, or the Fantastic Four.
THE TOP GUN MAVERICK SQUADRON
In addition to Rooster, the best junior pilots in the Navy are preparing themselves.
Phoenix aka Lieutenant Natasha Trace (Monica Barbaro)
Hangman aka Jake Seresin (Glen Powell)
Bob aka Lieutenant Robert Floyd (Lewis Pullman)
CYCLONE aka Vice Admiral Beau (John Hamm)
Payback aka Lieutenant Reuben Fitch (Jay Ellis)
Fanboy aka Lieutenant Mickey Garcia (Danny Ramirez)
PENNY & AMEILA BENJAMIN (JENNIFER CONNELLY, LYLIANA WRAY)
The officers’ casino, where many Navy heroes meet to party, also plays an important role in Top Gun Maverick. It’s here that Pete meets his former girlfriend, Penelope “Penny” Benjamin, played by the wonderful Jennifer Connelly.
Penny shows that Pete Mitchell and probably Tom Cruise admire modern, confident women. Because the barmaid knows exactly how to deal with Pete. With heart and charm, she shows him his own limits but even new paths.
Her daughter Amelia is in no way inferior to her. She doesn’t want him to hurt her mother’s feelings. That’s why she puts Pete in his place and gives him the cold shoulder.
We know the beautiful Jennifer from many films such as Career Opportunities, Labyrinth with David Bowie, A Beautiful Mind, Once Upon a Time in America, Alita: Battle Angel, and Spider-Man: Homecoming, to name just a few. So far, we’ve seen young Lyliana in Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Girl Missing, and Maximum Ride.
ICEMAN AKA LT. TOM KAZANSKY (VAL KILMER)
The special and very emotional appearance of Val Kilmer in his role as Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky shows that Tom Cruise does not forget his old companions. In the prequel, Iceman and Maverick were initially bitter opponents. Iceman didn’t like Maverick’s reckless ways at all. However, through their adventures, the two warhorses eventually became best friends. Now, Admiral Kazansky is the one who orders Pete Mitchell back to Top Gun.
The moment of their reunion is particularly emotional because Val Kilmer has had throat cancer. Unfortunately, he is hardly able to speak or eat. So, the few words he now speaks in Top Gun Maverick are not only moving. They are a kind of homage to this great artist who delighted us as Batman and in so many other roles. They include Tombstone, The Doors, The Saint, Top Secret, and many more.
THE TOP GUN MAVERICK RESUME
What is worth waiting for, for real? Unfortunately, it’s often the case that long awaited sequels fail to match the quality of the original. As it happened with Matrix, for example. Only rarely a sequel meets high expectations or pick up the unique charm of the original.
TOP GUN VS TOP GUN MAVERICK
First and foremost, Top Gun Maverick exceeds expectations and really does everything right. However, the prerequisite is that you have seen the original. Of course, you could enjoy Top Gun Maverick without any pre-knowledges. But the greatest emotions and understanding of the connections develop especially when you have followed Pete Mitchell on his first adventure as a young pilot.
THE SCORE & SOUND
From the first second, the film relies heavily on nostalgia and deep emotions. It also includes the timeless original score. Fortunately, it has been retained and has lost none of its brilliance. It’s only atmospherically complemented by new songs like Lady Gaga’s great Hold My Hand.
The great music and breathtaking images are accompanied by a sound we haven’t experienced in movies until today. When the jet turbines start, we are literally squeezed into our seats at home, feeling like we would fly the jet on our own. Since these aren’t usually ejection seats, we can’t leave them until the credits have rolled. The 131 minutes are too exciting. So be sure to go to the toilet first.
With its powerful images and sounds, Top Gun Maverick remains extremely entertaining from the first to the last second. Once, in the Berlin Zoo-Palast, which is, after all, the most modern cinema in the city, the action scenes even made the lobby of the house tremble.
And something similar also happens in our home cinema. So better warn your neighbors before you start the film. This violent storm of images and sounds guarantees that even those who don’t know the original will be drawn deep into the story. Additionally, the film’s nostalgic and sensitive moments reach the emotions of those who grew up watching movies like Top Gun. In an intensive and really special way, Tom Cruise takes us back to our own youth. It really guarantees unique moments.
TOM CRUISE AS TOP GUN MAVERICK
A certain self-mockery of Tom Cruise also contributes to this, as Penny and her daughter occasionally show him off. At almost 60 years old, he seems to accept that even the best training cannot be a steady fountain of youth.
Always connected with a little wink, Cruise swings into the air and leaves enough leeway for the new generation, those actors who had to go through a hard training to be part of Top Gun Maverick. Of course, the focus is on Maverick and Rooster. Thus, we don’t get a close connection with the others. However, Top Gun Maverick is an action movie, but not a drama. So this is also perfectly fine.
Realistic and up-to-date than ever
At no point does the film seem exaggerated, overloaded, or pathetic. But on the contrary. The Real scenes create a close connection between Maverick, his team, and the audience.
Despite or because of the long wait, Top Gun Maverick is now more up-to-date than the creators themselves had planned, and what people wanted. Let’s hope that these scenarios, which inspire us on the cinema screen, never have to take place in reality.
If we forget these thoughts for 130 minutes, we can immerse ourselves in a story about friendship, togetherness, daring, adventure, action, forgiveness, love, and passion while having a lot of fun and switching off the player with a big smile.
But before you do that, don’t forget to check out the 30+ minutes of bonus material. These features show the making of Top Gun Maverick. Tom Cruise takes us behind the scenes and shows us everything, right down to the pilot training sessions. It would be surprising if you weren’t in the Top Gun frenzy afterward.
The only point of criticism
Maybe, we should also smile about the only tiny criticism we could identify. Because it wouldn’t have needed a mustache to show the viewer the family bond between Ghoose and Rooster.
Howsoever, with all the positive impressions in mind, the countdown is over. Thus, keep yourselves ready for take-off, switch on your screen and enjoy one of the hottest movies of 2022.
VALEUR RANKING 98%
Text & Layout: Marco Kokkot
Pictures: Paramount Pictures 2022. All rights reserved.