Top Gun: Maverick review | The greatest blockbuster of 2022

Tom Cruise is back in the cockpit and we’re all the better for it; Top Gun: Maverick is the definitive blockbuster of our times.

Top Gun Maverick Tom Cruise


Within the first couple of minutes, I fell head over heels in love with Top Gun Maverick. It was the sequel no one asked for, yet somehow, it’s everything we need right now. It’s perfect popcorn entertainment, with a heart of gold and nerves of steel. 

Tom Cruise returns as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, a former Top Gun, now a test pilot. He was a rebel and a rule breaker in 1986 and, as Joseph Kosinski’s film establishes early on, he still is, but he’s now tasked with teaching 12 rookie Top Guns how to fly like no one ever has. They’re off on a mission that sounds insane and might be impossible to pull off, but if anyone can do it, it’s Maverick. 

Among the rookie fliers is Miles Teller’s Rooster, the son of Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, who was Maverick’s buddy and memorably, Maverick blames himself for Goose’s death. Can Rooster forgive Maverick and more importantly, can Maverick forgive himself? 

Top Gun Maverick Rooster

I’m just gonna say it: Top Gun is wildly overrated. It works as a fascinating study of machismo and masculinity and it’s nostalgic and iconic for sure, but it just hasn’t aged very well. It’s clumsy and at times just BAD, but it’s also a testament to Cruise’s charisma, which arguably carries it. 

That being said, Top Gun: Maverick is so much better than it has any right to be. It’s not perfect – what is? – but it does almost everything right and it does it with so much heart and sincerity that it’s impossible not to appreciate and admire Kosinski’s efforts. The film feels instantly iconic, epic and Top Gun: Maverick is 2022’s greatest, wildest blockbuster. 

Much has already been said about Cruise’s insistence that the actors film in actual fighter jets in order to fully feel the G-forces and the danger. It’s a smart choice, one that probably came with crippling insurance costs, but it makes Maverick immersive and thrilling. The roar of the jet engines will make your seat tremble and you’re immediately sucked into the high-octane world of Top Gun. The film feels both grand and intimate in its scope without ever forgetting the ever-important human factor at the very centre of it. 

What doesn’t quite work is the film’s villains. While arguably there are plenty of villains at home base, making the foreign enemies the squad inevitably encounters faceless and nameless seems strangely naive. It’s surely made to ensure the filmmakers don’t offend anyone, but it also takes away from the threat. The enemy pilots look appropriately evil in black helmets, but also like caricatures of classic movie villains. 

Top Gun Maverick

The other element of Maverick that could have used a bit more focus is the budding relationship between Maverick and Jennifer Connelly’s Penny, a character who was mentioned in the original but never seen on screen. The relationship between the two is refreshingly mature while also having that youthful playfulness, a description that also fits the film as a whole. But unlike the overall film, the relationship lacks depth and development, remaining shallow while everything else in the film is firmly grounded and established. 

Kosinski directs Maverick with visual flair, but this isn’t his film; it’s Cruise’s. Cruise shares several attributes with his character: both are charismatic, the best of their kind and desperate to achieve more. Maverick is a very old-fashioned film. This isn’t a flaw but a strength because in the era of multiverses and magical creatures, Maverick is a film that truly puts you on the edge of your seat and takes your breath away. 

Cruise builds a great dynamic with Teller, who remains one of the most talented young actors working. While it’s not as central to the plot as you’d think, Teller and Glen Powell’s chemistry is also good and the two characters’ relationship is reminiscent of that of Val Kilmer’s Iceman and Maverick in the first film. 

Speaking of Kilmer, he makes a brief, but emotional return. Maverick unashamedly runs on nostalgia, but it works. There are nods to the original, but Maverick is proudly its own thing and has plenty of merit as such. We truly feel the need, the need for speed and now we also crave more of it. 

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