'Top Gun: Maverick' Source: Paramount

Review: 'Top Gun: Maverick' is the Sequel Audiences Have Been Waiting Three Decades For

JC Alvarez READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Tom Cruise returns to the role that made him a Hollywood heavyweight in the proper sequel to one of cinema's biggest blockbusters in "Top Gun: Maverick," also starring Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, and Jon Hamm, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

It's more than thirty years later, and time has stood still in the life of Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Cruise), who continues to serve his country as one of the Navy's most accomplished and daring test pilots, but inevitably Maverick pushes the boundaries of any and every one of his superior officers and lands a mission he can't walk away from.

He's made a name for himself as someone who will take the risks, but it still doesn't explain why Maverick hasn't achieved greater success. What could be holding him back? When he's tapped to help train the next generation of the Navy's Top Gun pilots to take on a high-risk mission, Maverick's worst fears come true and he comes face to face with promises he made, the road less traveled, and the love that got away. Stepping into "Top Gun: Maverick" will feel, for many, especially those in the audience that remember the original, like slipping into a favorite and familiar weathered leather jacket.

Director Simon Curtis very intelligently doesn't attempt to change up the recipe. The secret sauce of "Top Gun: Maverick" is built in by wrapping most of the film around Cruise, but what's very apparent is how much his character has changed – or rather, hasn't changed at all.

The movie's supporting cast consists of heavyweights, including Jon Hamm and Jennifer Connelly, the latter cast as Penny, the love interest and someone whom Maverick let go, although now she's back in his life and Maverick can't help but recognize the irony in that. Life's second chances is a recurring message in the film, but so is courage. Maverick has to help the next team of hotshot pilots coming up in the Navy that in this job every second counts – it can mean the difference between life and death. The cast of "young blood" are familiar faces, if not names, and fit comfortably into the narrative.

Rooster (played by Miles Teller), the son of Maverick's wingman Goose, is among the candidates training for this mission. Both men must confront their feelings for one another. Goose (played by Anthony Edwards in the 1986 original) was killed on a mission serving with Maverick, leaving Rooster to grow up resenting Maverick, whom he blames for his father's death. Rooster is unaware of the guilt that Maverick is harboring for the younger man's loss, but he also made promises to keep him safe, some even at the cost of his career advancement, but now everything is riding on the success of this mission.

Everything that fans have come to embrace from the classic film (and it is important that it be recognized as a "classic") is in the DNA of its follow-up. When it was released in 1986, "Top Gun" immediately elevated its stars, especially Tom Cruise, to the top of the heap and turned co-stars Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards into overnight sensations and silver screen heartthrobs. It was the perfect combustion of high octane visual adventure, fueled by testosterone, with an ample heap of MTV brand marketing with a hit soundtrack and music videos that have kept the film resonating decades later.

A lot of that is revisited in "Top Gun: Maverick" from the hair-raising ariel dog fights and close calls, to Maverick's dawn-to-dusk rides on his motorcycle, not to mention the sun-drenched shirtless beachside football scrimmage that mirrors the original shamelessly sweaty volleyball game, giving Cruise the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with actors half his age and put them to shame. Then there's the music, supplied by Hans Zimmer, which absorbs all the keynotes from the '80s and makes them alive again, alongside the collaborations with Lady Gaga, who provides this film's love theme with her new single "Hold My Hand."

"Top Gun: Maverick" may have been the sequel that audiences have been waiting for three decades, and it's the perfect alignment of drama, action, and nostalgia.

"Top Gun: Maverick" is in theaters on May 27.

by JC Alvarez

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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