Top Gun: Maverick - best sequel ever

Top Gun: Maverick is finally out - Filmed four years ago, Tom Cruise, New York Times just called him one of the last true film stars, refused to let his film go to streaming in 2020 when apparently the studios begged him.

He stuck to his (top ) guns and thank God he did. This is what cinema is all about. The plot is straightforward but very well executed. I have a feeling this has a lot to do with Christopher McQuarrie being brought in for a script rewrite before production began.

It is a simple movie where a squad of top pilots have a seemingly impossible mission but must find a way to get it done. To train these young pilots is Maverick, the hero of the first movie. I’ll let you guess if it all works out.

The cast is great, Tom Cruise is back as Maverick and is at his absolute best. He is 60 this summer and honestly looks incredible, makes you consider Scientology to be honest. He’s partnered with the equally youthful looking Jennifer Connolly who must have an ageing portrait somewhere in her attic.

His young proteges are terrific also, Miles Teller plays Rooster who has a connection to Cruise’s Maverick but the stand out secondary character is Hangman played by Glenn Powell, he drips in arrogance and charisma as the bad boy of the flight school. I think if I were to buy stock in a young actor in Hollywood right now Glenn Powell would be the one. A total star in the making.

The original Top Gun from 1986 is a strange, homo-erotic, almost entirely plotless film that is good, camp, fun but not much more than that. When I rewatched it last week I struck how little plot was in the movie, it is more of a string of vignettes and montages than a film. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It's funny, great 80s music and outfits and Tom Cruise at a point in his career when he’s about to (excuse the pun ) take off.

Top Gun: Maverick though is on another level.

I loved this film so much and perhaps I’m being a prisoner of the moment here but it's possibly the best sequel ever made. It's certainly the sequel that improves the most upon its original. The thing about Aliens, Godfather Part 2 and Father of the Bride Part 2, all the movies people list as the best sequels, is the films they were following up were also great movies.

This has the distinct honour or being so much better than the original that you almost do a disservice by saying its “one of the great sequels” its “one of the great movies” full stop. It is so great to see a movie that isn’t set in space or have super heroes or a massive CGI fest. The flight scenes are incredible and from what I can tell mostly done for real, the amount of pilots listed in the credits is larger than the list of CGI programmers.

It's funny to think of a sequel that cost 170 million dollars with a 200 million dollar marketing budget starring Tom Cruise. It being a huge success in the box office feels like a victory for original cinema, but I really think it is. I do think some people, with the geopolitical situation as it is, will not want to see a film celebrating militaries and weapons of war. I think that's fair enough and I was wondering would I be put off by that aspect myself.

The opposition forces are referred simply as “the enemy”. There is no Korea or Russia or Chinese villains here, partly not to offend anyone but I think its mostly to protect its box-office in those counties. On the other hand there isn’t a single lingering shot on an American flag or a single mention of land of the free and home of the brave.

So if that Micheal Bay jingoistic nonsense puts you off you really dont have to worry about it here. Thank god for that. This is an old fashioned film in the best possible way. Tom Cruise is 59 and is legitimately putting his life on the line to create great movies and entertain us. We owe it to him to go see this movie in the biggest screen possible.

 

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