After being postponed for more than a year due to corona, it is being published these days TOP GUN: MAVERICK, the sequel to an 80s cult film that contains trace elements of a remake is in cinemas. And she adheres slavishly to the motives of the role model – which can be interpreted well and not so well. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Top Gun: Maverick (CHN/USA 2022)
For more than 30 years, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) has been a top pilot for the Navy. As a fearless test pilot, he explores the limits of what is possible and avoids the promotion that would banish him to the ground. When he is supposed to train a group of Top Gun trainees for a special mission, he meets Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), nicknamed “Rooster”, the son of Maverick’s late co-pilot and friend Nick Bradshaw, “Goose”. Confronted with the ghosts of the past, Maverick is forced to confront his deepest fears as the special mission will demand the ultimate sacrifice from all those chosen for the mission.
When “Top Gun” hit theaters in the late 1980s, the Tom Cruise vehicle, which featured some spectacular hand-crafted flying action scenes, was not a critical darling. In particular, the proximity to military propaganda (which was specifically thanked for its support in the credits; part two was also partially financed by the military) was negatively received by the press. It was only over time that the perception of the film in pop culture changed, which is still a little surprising when you realize how much of the plot is actually drama and love story and how much percent is actually the flying stunts. At this point it should be said straight away: The legacy sequel, which was released over three decades later – a mixture of sequel and new edition – makes itself aware of the current status of the original and brings into focus what “Top Gun” is primarily remembered for today the focus: the flight action – and Tom Cruise (“Mission: Impossible – Fallout”). In “Top Gun: Maverick” he plays his well-known role of fighter pilot Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, who from now on teaches and no longer flies the missions himself. Aside from this marginal change – Cruise himself still sits in the cockpit often enough – director Joseph Kosinski, in his second collaboration with the Hollywood star after “Oblivion”, is based heavily on the scenic features of the original, so that you sometimes don’t really realize that these are new things Scenes or which ones from part one? That makes “Top Gun: Maverick” a feast for people who want the exact movie experience they now associate with “Top Gun.” Nevertheless, “Top Gun: Maverick” seems like it has fallen out of time, which sometimes seems strange and definitely needs to be questioned.
Even so many years later, Tom Cruise remains the lynchpin of the film.
Creator Dan Harmon directed an episode of the comedy series “Community,” which absorbs pop culture and its rules like a sponge, in an adventure and hero film style. Its main characters – locked in a towed camping trailer – act just as pathetically and heroically as you would mostly see in films from the mid to late eighties and nineties. Including the typical fist-balling and tear-in-your-eyes-hugging-your-hero-friend scenes; to mention just two of numerous examples that seem downright antiquated today, which exemplify how targeted Kosinski and his screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Ehren Kruger are here (“Ghost in the Shell”) and Eric Warren Singer (“No Way Out”) “Knowing how to push the buttons of the testosterone-charged action, war and action film blueprints that “Community” knew how to parody so aptly. And what can I say: it works! Nevertheless, with the knowledge of precise calculation, it seems almost ridiculous these days, simply because people have long been sensitized to what films want to achieve with such scenes, certain tracking shots, musical inserts and even acting performances. “Top Gun: Maverick” can therefore be viewed from two sides: Firstly, from the perspective of those who can fall into exactly this type of nostalgic (transfigured). And from those whose demands on the genre are simply different so many decades later; more subtle, less dramatized and therefore somehow more “real”. Joseph Kosinski has already staged the antithesis to “Top Gun: Maverick” himself: the fire department drama “No Way Out – Against the Flames”. It’s best to ask yourself in advance which type you belong to in order to set your expectations. But one thing is certain: those who exalt 80s cinema as the pinnacle of film history will love “Top Gun: Maverick”…
“Joseph Kosinski and his screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer know how to push the buttons of the testosterone-fueled action, war and action film blueprints that ‘Community’ knew how to parody so aptly. And what can I say: it works!”
… and everyone else is watched by whirling cameras (Claudio Miranda, “Life of Pi – Shipwreck with Tiger”) as well as a thrilling soundtrack to enjoy the spectacular action. Comparisons with a force recently seen and felt in films like “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” are not far-fetched. It’s not for nothing that “M:I” mastermind Christopher McQuarrie is part of the production and writing staff here. In advance, the main focus of the PR work was on the fact that Tom Cruise once again piloted the flying machine himself in many scenes and that a large part of the action scenes were handmade anyway. It’s almost ironic that the number of people responsible for CGI mentioned in the credits is huge, which really undermines the impression that everything in “Top Gun: Maverick” is real. But that doesn’t matter. You can count on one hand the number of times when it’s obvious that a scene has been “enhanced” with computer effects. And so you are pressed into the cinema seat for over two hours, in a way that even the original couldn’t do – simply because the action scenes take up significantly less space. One might almost be tempted to predict that there will hardly be anything better to see in big-budget action cinema this year.
Even though Miles Teller is clearly trying hard to follow in the Hollywood star’s footsteps.
In terms of content, “Top Gun: Maverick” follows the rules of a legacy sequel that were recently illustrated in detail in the horror cult sequel “Scream 5” and establishes new heroes in the position of his role models, while Tom Cruise – who, by the way, appears neither in the illustrated opening nor in the end credits, but only in the Running text is called – as returnees from the original hold the troupe together in the truest sense of the word. But even though the script is clearly trying hard, Miles Teller (“Whiplash”) to establish himself as Maverick’s successor and allow him to develop a character that is very gross motor in the rest of the film, “Top Gun: Maverick” remains a pure Tom Cruise vehicle. The majority of the “magical”, style-defining moments are once again at his expense. Be it because he is once again in a race with a fighter jet taking off in the sunset, the emotional (romantic) focus of the story about his love interest Jennifer Connelly (“Alita: Battle Angel”) or gives pathetic motivational speeches to his class of trainees. One of them is one of the best scenes in the film, when he appeals to his protégés to think about how to inform the parents of a comrade who has died in action about his death if the death was his own fault. This is suddenly anything but banal aviation romance, but rather powerful drama cinema. The same goes for a reunion with Val Kilmer (“Song to Song”)which gets a short appearance that absolutely does justice to its status in the original.
“In terms of content, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ follows the rules of a legacy sequel that were recently illustrated in detail in the horror cult sequel ‘Scream 5’ and establishes new heroes in the position of his role models, while Tom Cruise, as a returnee from the original, holds the group together.”
But what is “Top Gun: Maverick” as a whole? Rarely has this answer been so clear to you “It depends on your own perspective” to answer. At the same time, the film can be counted out by its old-fashioned calculation. Its heroism, which is no longer up to date (the patriotism here is surprisingly limited), the constellation of characters and the superficial love story. And yet it works in exactly this way – and of course through its brutal, gigantic action. “Top Gun: Maverick” is – at least in the current cinema landscape – unique. But anyone who finds themselves smiling and shaking their heads every now and then can hardly be blamed for this.
Conclusion: Somewhere between old-fashioned, calculated, banal 80s action cinema and stunts that set new standards even by current standards, “Top Gun: Maverick” is a film that no longer exists today. It is questionable whether you need it exactly that way – because the original already exists. But the spectacular flight scenes alone make the Tom Cruise show a must-see of the cinema year.
“Top Gun: Maverick” can be seen in USA cinemas from May 26, 2022.