The question that first springs to mind when watching Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to the massive commercial blockbuster success from 1986, is “when can I take a toilet break?”
The answer is, you can’t.
Jerry Bruckheimer is back in the production chair to oversee what has already proved to be a monster of a movie and, dare it be said, a film that far eclipses the original.
From the opening moments when we first hear the echoes of Kenny Loggins’ (Highway to the) Danger Zone, for all its 80s cheesiness, you know you’re going to be in for one hell of a ride.
Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, played by Tom Cruise, is still a test pilot 36 years later. The only man who continues to back him in that role is Commander of the Pacific Fleet and one-time adversary Tom “Iceman” Kazansy (Val Kilmer in his first film since an operation for throat cancer).
After Maverick pushes the latest supersonic jet into hyper overdrive and destroys it on a test flight, Rear Admiral Chester Cain (Ed Harris) wants him grounded. Instead, Iceman redeploys Mitchell to the Top Gun training program where he first started.
He’s tasked with training a group of fighter pilots to attack a uranium enrichment plant in an unknown country; the only problem is, they can’t use the latest jets and it is set in a deep valley that’s almost impossible to access.
Added to this mix, one of his trainees is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s previous co-pilot Goose, who died in the first film and about whom he carries enormous guilt.
And, of course, there’s the woman he left who now runs the bar at the camp, Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connolly). Clearly, there is unfinished business in that department.
So you’ve got all the elements: a rogue pilot, a resentful trainee, a love interest, various top brass who think Maverick is too dangerous for the Navy, and did I mention the utterly breathtaking aerial shots? Yes, there are utterly breathtaking.
The acting is less about individuals because they all perform with professionalism and aplomb, but this really is an ensemble film (except for its star because, well, he’s a star).
How is Tom Cruise 59 but hasn’t really aged since the first film? I’m two years older than him and I look like a sack of potatoes. But I digress …
Helming this 131-minute film – that literally feels like about 20 minutes – is Joseph Kosinsky, who previously worked with Cruise on Oblivion, and had his major cinematic breakthrough with the excellent Tron: Legacy.
Top Gun Maverick is an absolute assault on the senses. There’s probably an argument about how the US Navy might use this as a propaganda exercise to attract new trainees and send them into pointless conflict, but that’s an argument for another day.
Top Gun: Maverick gets 5/5 wingmen.
Top Gun: Maverick is showing at cinemas across Canberra.