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Movie review: Top Gun: Maverick

You can be my wingman anytime!
Credit: Paramount Pictures
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Top Gun: Maverick

It's rare that a sequel, especially a legacy sequel, is better than the original. "Top Gun: Maverick" might just achieve that feat. Tom Cruise first flew onto the big screen as the rogue Navy fighter pilot with the call sign "Maverick" 36 years ago. I remember seeing it at a surprise sneak screening in Dallas. This Cruise guy was good in "Risky Business," I thought, why not! Like everyone else, I was blown away.

The original's director, Tony Scott, died ten years ago. Cruise's "Oblivion" director, Joseph Kosinski, proposed the story of Maverick coming back as a Top Gun instructor to train students for a nearly impossible mission. Among those students, the son of his buddy and former flight partner, "Goose." And who calls Maverick back to action? None other than his former nemesis-turned-wingman "Iceman" Kazansky, (Val Kilmer) now an Admiral. Kilmer's recent bout with throat cancer robbed him of his voice and provided a challenge. Cruise insisted he be part of the sequel, and the storyline they came up with is inspired. Kelly McGillis does not return as Maverick's love interest, but an old flame mentioned twice in the original film is back in the picture and played with sass-and-class by Jennifer Connelly.

Cruise is known for doing so many of his stunts, and "Top Gun: Maverick" is no exception. Though he's not flying the F18s, he is strapped in with six IMAX cameras capturing those powerful G-forces. (He made sure all his actor/students also trained so every shot looks authentic.) Cruise hits all the right notes and knows what audiences want from his character. Miles Teller is also great at Goose's son, "Rooster." And Glen Powell as "Hangman" is so cocky, he reminds you of the young "Maverick."

This movie has been ready to roll out since Summer 2020. Cruise and Kosinski must have been bursting at the seams to share their treasure. Cruise refused to release it as a streamer, knowing full well that it belongs on the big screen. With that, I suggest that you see it on the biggest screen you can. You'll be completely enthralled. This is a terrific movie (and not just 'for a popcorn movie.')  It's emotional, it's funny, it's nostalgic and most important for fans, it's action-packed like the original could never dream of being thanks to advances in technology. If that's not enough, add a perfect Lady Gaga ballad.

They're saying this could be the first Tom Cruise movie that opens with $100 million. If so, it earns every penny. Tom Cruise, when it comes to blockbusters, "you can be my wingman anytime!"

(Paramount Pictures. Rated PG-13. Running Time 2 hrs. 11 mins. In Theaters Only.)

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