Top Gun: Maverick in IMAX – The DVDfever Review – Tom Cruise

Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick is now in cinemas after many false starts, and right off the bat it has the feels, firstly with one thing I spotted, but many won’t.

This sequel to 1986’s Top Gun is shown as being a Don Simpson / Jerry Bruckheimer production, and this was certainly the case up until 1996’s The Rock, since Don Simpson died of heart failure before that film’s release, but they’d worked together on many classics such as Beverly Hills Cop I & II, Crimson Tide, and again with this film’s lead on 1990’s Days of Thunder.

But enough of my geekery, and this film also has the same opening text about how the school of ‘Top Gun’ came about, along with the original Top Gun theme followed by Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone and seeing planes take off from an aircraft carrier, plus the same font used.

Six IMAX cameras inside each F18…

As is customary with a lot of blockbusters, before we get to the meat of the plot, we first have a prologue, this time showing Captain Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Tom Cruise) testing a fancy plane to the point where he’ll get up to Mach 10, but will he make it? Either way, in this film – given the way that he is – you know he’s doing his own stunts. Quite whether that involves REALLY going at Mach 10, I don’t know, since based on the plot, it’s never been done by a human before, and I’m sure we’d have heard if he really was the first person to do this. Either way, he’s still flying planes aplenty elsewhere, and in a TV interview, I saw Miles Teller – as Lt. Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw, aka the son of Anthony Edwards’ Goose from the first film – saying he hoped he didn’t have to go up in the air, until they were all told the only way to get realistic flight scenes was to actually… fly, or at least be in a cockpit, and that some of these scenes had to be redone when they checked the rushes (i.e. what was filmed) and realised a cloud was in the wrong place, not that I or most people would’ve noticed such an anomoly.

But ol’ Maverick is chastised more than once for the fact he’s still only a Captain, when in reality, someone with ambition would’ve climbed the ranks many times by now. But given that it’s him, by ignoring promotion, he can still continue to fly, and that’s all he cares about. But his time can’t last forever, as Cain (Ed Harris) returns to tell him that he’s basically yesterday’s news, with the younger folk snapping at his heels.

However, despite his advancing years, I hope I look as good as Tom Cruise does at almost 60, although hell, I’d hope for that NOW, at the age of… whatever age I am. That said, Thomas Cruise Mapother IV – for that is his full name – would’ve filmed this around 2018/2019, perhaps with some scenes in 2020, as it was originally scheduled for release on July 12th 2019, but then put back a year to June 26th 2020 so they could film a number of complex action sequences, and then we know what happened by then. Still, even then, he was older than I am now, and I still look like this.

Top Gun: Maverick

Miles Teller as Lt. Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw.

Oh, now you want a plot? Well, Pete’s brought back to the Top Gun training school because the Russians (not that they’re named as such) have built a uranium enrichment facility, which is inconveniently at the wrong end of a long canyon, heavily protected by surface-to-air missiles, and on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’ 😉

According to the powers that be who have recruited him – including Jon Hamm as Admiral ‘Cyclone’ Simpson, and one of many bigwigs who has a haircut you could set your watch to – Maverick won’t be flying, but just teaching (Yep, let’s see how that plan goes). He’ll be given 12 team members to train, but only the select few of six will be taking place when the critical moment comes, and there’s just three weeks to go before the facility comes online.

The task will involve flying an F18 fighter jet, at 100 feet high max – so as to avoid the missiles being triggered, at 660 knots, and all in two-and-a-half minutes before they bomb and go. However, the aerial scenes are beefed up by showing some of the training, which includes a game of ‘first kill’, where you have to get someone in your sights. Can Maverick beat everyone, or will some of them win at his own game?

And if you’re wondering where Iceman (Val Kilmer) fits into all this, the hiring of Maverick for the training role is down to him. They were rivals in the first movie, so it’s nice to see them reunited here, even if Mr Kilmer’s health isn’t all it could be following two years battling throat cancer from 2015 to 2017.

When it comes to romance, there’s no Kelly McGillis, but Maverick is sniffing around Penny (Jennifer Connelly) as if they’re still teenagers. There’s a hint that Tom and Jennifer have a history together, but it’s never really explored in any depth. Like everything in this film, it’s surface detail only, and nothing at all plot-heavy. However, I’m reminded that the character’s name of Penny is mentioned in the first film early on, even if the character is never seen. I could’ve watched that again before seeing this, but sometimes it’s better not to when the plots are not going to be directly connected. For example, after seeing Mary Poppins Returns in 2018 in the cinema, some elements of the original seemed familiar, but as it that one was shown again on BBC1 that Christmas, I saw just how much the newer film rips off – sorry, pays homage to – the first one, and had I seen No.1 before No.2, then No.2 would’ve felt more like a repeat, so I’m glad I didn’t.

Top Gun: Maverick

Monica Barbaro as Lt. Natasha ‘Phoenix’ Trace.

Top Gun: Maverick evokes the spirit of the original movie without feeling like it’s just retreading old ground. That said, it’s entertaining and it does what it says on the tin, but don’t expect it to change your life. Just be glad that they made a follow-up to a 36-year-old film and didn’t screw it up.

There are flashbacks to 1986, with clips of Goose singing Great Balls of Fire (you’ll see why in the new film), and we see early on that Rooster hates Maverick because he forever blames him for his Dad’s death, but while I’ll give no spoilers, even at the start, I figured they’d iron out their differences by the end. As I alighted to, this isn’t the most heavily-plotted film you’ll see all year.

In fact, most of the characters in this are more cardboard than Frank Sidebottom’s Little Frank character, although the writers try to give some definition to the pilots, even if it’s just a case of, say, Lt. Natasha ‘Phoenix’ Trace (Monica Barbaro) being the token female, while Lt. Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin (Glen Powell) is the cocky arsehole, a la Iceman from the original movie.

Of course, you’re asking: could we get a Top Gun 3? There’s no reason why not. Cruise has worked with director Joseph Kosinski previously on 2013’s Oblivion, and I’m sure everyone involved could put a script together, since it’s all about the visuals. Plus, before long, Cruise will have had EIGHT Mission Impossible movies on the big screen, so he’s no stranger to sequels. And note, prior to this film, we saw a trailer for July 2023’s Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One, with Part Two slotted in for the summer of 2024, naturally. I knew they were making two films back-to-back, but wasn’t aware of them making it a two-parter. Then again, they always have characters crossing over between various films, so they may as well be part of the same story.

Top Gun: Maverick

Cruise with Jennifer Connelly…

And for my end-credit adventures, thankfully, no cleaners reared their heads before the credits finished, so I could watch them without the bright lights interrupting proceedings.

But then something cool happened which I wasn’t expecting. A few people on my row passed me as they left, since I was sat there until the credits ended, and then a young lady called Chrissy came back to the row, I thought to pick up something she’d left behind, but no… she saw that I had my A5 pad and pen out, and asked if I was reviewing the film. I replied yes, and she said, “That’s so cool!”, and I told her my website name, DVDfever, before she left, so maybe she’ll see this.

Additionally, I wanted to take a selfie with the poster in the lobby, but it wasn’t easy to do so, AND get my Top Gun: Maverick T-shirt in the picture, but I saw her in the corridor just as I left the IMAX screen as she was waiting for her boyfriend, and they came out into the lobby as I was trying to figure out how to take the picture… so I asked if she’d mind, and she did the honours, at which point I learned her name.

I like those moments in life of random conversations with people you’ve never met before.

Top Gun: Maverick – Official Trailer – Paramount Pictures

In addition, my decision for a trip to the cinema was a late, very last-minute one, and so I hadn’t done my hair or made myself look fabulous, but then I didn’t expect to bump into too many people at that time of night for an 11.20pm screening – and after almost 30 mins of ads and other nonsense, by the time the film ended, it was 2am!

Before the film – and I will just have a bit of an Odeon moan, here – after finally getting into the Trafford Centre (most of the usual car parks are shut, but there’s no indication of this until you drive up to them, so a lot of wasted time spent), even at just after 11.20am, there was a long queue at the only two open tills (which also double as food kiosks, thus taking even more time – especially when you just want a single ticket!), and yet there were a lot of other staff just standing around and chatting.

I get that not everyone is assigned to work on the tills, but supermarkets have ‘Queuebusters’ procedures, to add people onto the tills briefly to bring these down, so they should also do this here. Just in front of me was a family of six, and I figured they’d take forever, but just before they were technically next, the two lads being served at the right-hand till got their stuff and moved on, and this family just stood around chatting and stayed in the queue for the left-hand till (they would have been next, anyway, even at that till). Now, I don’t know if they did this on purpose, and saw that I was on my own and wouldn’t take long, but I moved to the open space at that right-hand till and was served. If they did do that on purpose so I could get my ticket, then I thank them for that.

Top Gun: Maverick is in cinemas now, and is available to pre-order on Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray Steelbook, 4K Blu-ray, Amazon Prime and DVD.

You can also pre-order the Top Gun double-bill on 4K Blu-ray.

Top Gun: Maverick

Late night queue at Odeon Trafford Centre – totally unnecessary…

Detailed specs:

Running time: 131 minutes
Release date: March 25th 2022
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Format: 1.90:1 (IMAX Version, around 60 minutes of footage); 2.39:1 (X-OCN ST (6K))
Rating: 7.5/10

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Tom Cruise, David Ellison, Christopher McQuarrie
Characters: Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr
Story: Peter Craig, Justin Marks
Screenplay: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie
Music: Lorne Balfe (score), Lady Gaga (song)

Capt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell: Tom Cruise
Adm. Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky: Val Kilmer
Lt. Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw: Miles Teller
Penny Benjamin: Jennifer Connelly
Wo-1. Bernie ‘Hondo’ Coleman: Bashir Salahuddin
Adm. Beau ‘Cyclone’ Simpson: Jon Hamm
Adm. Solomon ‘Warlock’ Bates: Charles Parnell
Lt. Natasha ‘Phoenix’ Trace: Monica Barbaro
Lt. Robert ‘Bob’ Floyd: Lewis Pullman
Lt. Reuben ‘Payback’ Fitch: Jay Ellis
Lt. Mickey ‘Fanboy’ Garcia: Danny Ramirez
Lt. Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin: Glen Powell
Lt. Neil ‘Omaha’ Vikander: Jack Schumacher
Lt. Billy ‘Fritz’ Avalone: Manny Jacinto
Lt. Callie ‘Halo’ Bassett: Kara Wang
Lt. Javy ‘Coyote’ Machado: Greg Tarzan Davis
Lt. Brigham ‘Harvard’ Lennox: Jake Picking
Lt. Logan ‘Yale’ Lee: Raymond Lee
Sarah Kazansky: Jean Louisa Kelly
Amelia: Lyliana Wray
Radm. Chester ‘Hammer’ Cain: Ed Harris