It’s been 35 years since the sequel to the late Tony Scott’s original, ‘Top Gun’ and Tom Cruise, the star who flew high thereafter with several series of sequel heavy franchises, has returned as Pete Mitchell – older, wiser, and perhaps even ready to rekindle his amour with Penny (Jennifer Connelly).
Pete Mitchell – called sign “Maverick,” deemed the fastest man alive, is back where he belongs thanks to ‘Ice’ (Val Kilmer) – pushing the envelope as a test pilot instructor, imparting training to a bunch of young and willing Top Guns from the Naval aviation academy, who is scheduled to undertake a top-secret, high-risk suicide mission in enemy territory that in all probability would be their last ever.
You may well call it Mission Impossible. But Tom Cruise as Maverick, who was working on the fringes of the US Navy, as a test pilot when he gets called on this swan song mission, won’t. It’s up to Pete to give the mission hopefuls a fighting chance of returning back alive and for that, they will have to undertake flight training equivalent to the risk at hand within a short period.
The absence of naming the enemy country by producer Tom Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski distracts people significantly from the experience. It’s clear they don’t want to risk losing box-office returns due to any negative counter-offensive from irritated nations.
Despite this hiccup, Kosinski manages to draw us into this gravity-defying, precariously low-flying, full-throttle, entertaining adrenaline rush led from the front by its Mega Star, who reportedly performs all of his own death-defying stunts.
The emotional and dramatic stakes here are much higher than that of its predecessor and nostalgia also plays an important role in incrementing its likeability. While the suicide mission sets the scene for a continuous stream of adrenaline gushing high-flying moments, it seems terribly loony at best.
The human drama that co-writers Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie spin-off from Peter Craig and Justin Marks’ original story adds to the appeal. Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of the dearly departed “Goose,” whose accidental death still haunts Maverick, has several issues to address, Cyclone (Jon Hamm) is hesitant to hand over overtraining to Pete, and Maverick’s on-again, off-again relationship with Penny add weight to the complex human drama at play here.
The narration is fairly studied, but the authentic training shots (shot in actual US Navy F/A-18s with each cast member undergoing rigorous training), the breathtaking aerial action sequences, and the nostalgia-driven frames of Cruise on a motorcycle wearing his original Top Gun leather jacket – all aided by Claudio Miranda’s ace cinematography – make for an amiability that reverberates with sheer awe!