Top Gun Maverick (2022)
You could tell how hard Kosinski was pulling on your strings even before the opening credits had finished rolling. And it has clearly worked with it becoming a behemoth at the Box Office ($1.355 billion, at time of writing). It wasn't enough of a draw to me, however, to have me busting down all doors to get a ticket. This is me ponderously considering the review I really should do for it, so am giving it the once over for no more reason than just to see what all the fuss is about.
Neither a fan nor naysayer of the original, I watched it of course like seemingly everyone else, more for Kelly McGillis' legs than Cruise and Kilmer's knob-waving competition. They were heady times indeed, and yes you're going to get them all over again because Cruise is not shy of using exactly what has worked in the past, and even less shy about telling Kosinski to do it too.
Cue exciting shots of fighter jets and aircraft carriers, backed up as usual by Kenny Loggins, displaying just how great and cool it is to be an American hero. If it hadn't been for Cruises' age, I wouldn't have been able to tell the old from the new in the first five minutes. The nostalgia and familiarity continues unabated with the introduction of a new batch of 'the best of the best' featuring Miles Teller's Rooster, playing Goose's son, who still harbours disdain for Maverick, still believing he was responsible for his Father's death thirty years ago.
Inevitable love interest comes in the form of Jennifer Connelly, new owner of the local bar near Fightertown, as opposed to McGillis who reportedly was never asked to reprise her role, herself citing her own current appearance - "fat, old and looking my age (64)" for the lack of an invitation. Neither very glam nor surprising in the world of Hollywood blockbusters, after all.
Supported by a fantastic cast, you would do well to point at the flaws here in the acting, as there really isn't any. If there is one gripe it is the lack of originality, clearly opting for a formula that is both well-trodden and profitable. It delivers on most fronts, even if the dogfighting sequences are the highlights, this is easily outgunned timewise by the exposition and the nods to what a maverick Maverick both was and is. Predictable in the extreme, it still manages to give audiences what they want, which is essentially more of what they found so compelling and exciting last time.
In short, a nod to a more innocent cinematic past with full blown nostalgia laden on it in spades, that will ring relevant for everyone who wants a real blockbuster that makes no excuses for what it is.