I wish it was 1986 too. At least someone else would have to worry about the bills. Before getting to Top Gun: Maverick (2022) we must get into the DeLorean and travel to 1986. Tony Scott (1944-2012) gave the cinema great movies, films that transcended the screen and became entrenched in popular culture, Top Gun (1986) is the perfect example. It’s impossible to imagine the eighties and nineties without Maverick, Ice Man and the F-14s taking to the skies to the tune of Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone. Or maybe listening to Berlin’s Take My Breath Away and not imagining Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis doing their thing. Beyond its value as a cinematographic work, Scott’s film stands out thanks to its ability to connect with the audience and permeate it until it becomes a currency of regular use in society.
Top Gun: Maverick not only feeds on its predecessor to lay the foundation for the new story, rather it outlines sequences that imitate those made by Tony Scott with a more nostalgic than cinematographic vocation. Director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion) is adding pieces on an already drawn scheme. Peter Craig’s (The Town, The Batman) script still lacks its own identity and feels more like an extension of Jim Cash and Jack Epp’s source material. Even the overtones of political and military propaganda prevail as if the world still lived under the shadow of the Cold War. The monologue of the United States of America, the vigorous and brave boys, who are now accompanied by a girl to avoid being canceled by the me too, the faceless and voiceless enemy that we can eliminate without anyone caring and the epic outcome that raises the colors of the Star-Spangled Banner.
After the opening sequence we see Maverick (Tom Cruise) working on an aircraft engine in a hangar far from civilization. Then he dons his classic aviator jacket, gazes over some memorabilia and photos before reaching for his shades and climbing onto the Kawasaki that immortalized him in 1986. Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell now spends his days as a test rider for the special projects of the Air Force, but by a twist of fate he is called to be an instructor in the prestigious academic popularly known as “Top Gun”. With the ghosts of the past knocking at the door and against his will, old Maverick accepts the task.
Where Top Gun: Maverick is at its best is in the action sequences. The rhythm that Kosinski achieves is overwhelming and makes us imagine ourselves inside those fighter planes at unimaginable speeds and we sigh as if it were our skin that was in the line of fire when the F-18s are launched to prevent the world from succumbing to a fearsome ethereal villain. It is impressive what modern techniques and technology can accomplish on the film set and how this translates into the final product that reaches the big screen. And it is precisely on the big screen where this film can be consumed without missing a thing. Here ninety percent is form and the remaining 10 corresponds to the substance. Director of photography Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi, Oblivion) knows very well what he is betting on, and his camera always finds a way to immortalize that Tom Cruise and his boys.
Top Gun: Maverick is an entertaining, adrenaline-fueled stroll down nostalgia lane that reminds us that Tom Cruise is the last great movie star, a dying breed (as one line in the film alludes to) that anticipates an end but that we are sure that this is not it.