The world and its wars may have changed in the decades since Top Gun (1986) propelled Tom Cruise into the stratosphere, but Maverick is as maverick does. And so Top Gun: Maverick (12A) opens with veteran test pilot Captain Pete Mitchell, aka Maverick (Tom Cruise), breaking the rules as he attempts to fly hypersonic, after which he is summoned by Admiral ‘Iceman’ Kazansky (Val Kilmer) and commissioned to teach a new generation of pilots how to fly an impossible mission: destroy a nuclear reactor being built by a rogue state.
Maverick’s best pupil is Rooster Bradshaw (Miles Teller), a cautious flier who has learned the hard way not to trust Maverick’s instincts — he is, after all, the son of Goose, the co-pilot who lost his life in the original movie when Maverick went off-piste. Can the men learn to dovetail and bring out the best in one another?
Right from the off, as Kenny Loggins’ 'Danger Zone' blasts out over the opening credits of jet fighters landing on an aircraft carrier,is a clever blend of action thriller and nostalgia vehicle (director Joseph Kosinski recreates quite a few of the iconic scenes from the original here). The adrenaline-fuelled action sequences are brilliantly executed, and especially the suicide mission itself, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Rebel assault on the Death Star, but where the movie really scores is when the characters are back on terra firma.
Hangman (Glen Powell) is this generation’s Maverick, a hell-for-leather, seat-of-the-pants pilot who is in direct competition with the conservative Rooster; and while Maverick’s ‘don’t think, just do’ mantra won the day back in the 1980s, the older Maverick is obliged to temper his own innate instincts to become a responsible father-figure.
The result is a high-octane action-adventure that wears its heart on its sleeve.