Review: A 24-year-old Tom Cruise in his iconic patch-emblazoned jacket and Aviators gave us some cult cinematic moments in the 1986 original, the blockbuster that catapulted him to superstardom. Be it him racing against fighter jets on his superbike, playing sexy shirtless beach volleyball or making a fairly headstrong lady fall for him through his notorious charm, arrogance and reckless (flying) skill… Cruise’s testosterone-fuelled Top Gun was a heady mix of heroism, heart-warming friendship, hot romance and rivalry.
35-years-later, in a superhero dominated movie phase, Tom Cruise, 59, dares to bring old school heroism back in a worthy sequel that’s high on redemption and thrill.
While he retains the oomph of the original, the franchise ages gracefully as wisdom and consequences of death challenge the carefree courage of youth. Though an inquiry clears Maverick of responsibility for his friend Goose’s death, the burden of guilt lies heavy on him and training Rooster offers Maverick a chance for redemption. Ageing deprives one the privilege of making rash decisions and it’s interesting to see a 60 something hero tackling the ghosts of his past, face professional stagnation and face the reality of choosing to be alone.
Director Joseph Kosinski’s film sticks to the flashy, unabashed bravado of the original while raising the emotional stakes and spectacular aerial stunts. “I am a fighter pilot. I am into naval aviation. This is not what I do. This is who I am.” These lines, though attributed to Maverick, resonate with Tom Cruise and his need for speed. The adrenaline junkie in him lives through his characters and Top Gun is the icing on the cake. The effort to get every aerial stunt right is outstanding and the sound and visuals accentuate that intent.
Val Kilmer in a special appearance (as Iceman) takes you back in time. Jennifer Connelly as Maverick’s on-off love interest Penny is interesting, but Kelly McGillis and her push-pull chemistry with Cruise is sorely missed. Top Gun: Maverick’s theme song ‘Hold My Hand’ (by Lady Gaga) doesn’t match up to the sensual love anthem of decades — Take My Breath Away. A one-man show, Cruise ensures the attention is on him and him alone, the film has just the right amount of nostalgia, drama and action to make it worthy of theatrical viewing. Go for it!