The original Top Gun from 1986 hasn't aged all that well. There's a cool aerial fight at the end, but the rest is kind of goofy. There is no real plot, just a bunch of egomaniacal jet pilots vying to be the best in flight training school. The romantic subplot often stops the movie cold because there is little chemistry between stars Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. Then there is the homoerotic shirtless volleyball sequences that just spirals the movie into high camp.
Well, the belated sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, is a much better movie. It actually has a plot, a tag football sequence on the beach exists to show teamwork, and Cruise has a good rapport with his romantic co-star Jennifer Connelly. Plus, the aerial action scenes are sensational. Yes, that's really Tom Cruise and the other actors in the fighter jet cockpits in many of those flying scenes.
In Top Gun: Maverick we find Navy aviator Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Cruise) assigned to train a group of graduates for a dangerous mission. One of the hotshot pilots is Lt. Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of Maverick's co-pilot, Goose, who died in a training accident years ago, and Rooster blames Maverick for his father's death. Making Maverick's job even harder is Adm. Beau "Cyclone" Simpson (Jon Hamm), who doesn't approve of Maverick's reckless way.
The personal drama resonates, leading to a genuinely emotional conclusion. A cameo by Val Kilmer, as Maverick's rival turned confidant Adm. Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, is nice. It's also poignant since, in real life, actor Kilmer had throat cancer, which has left his voice at barely a whisper. It was good to see Kilmer, and I would have liked to see him have a little more screen time. And Maverick's romance with a bartender and single mom named Penny (Connelly) is playful but never comes off as corny or as filler in between the actions scenes.
Yeah, some callback moments from the original film teeter on being a little too much, but director Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, TRON: Legacy) keeps them rather restrained. The movie doesn't rely on only nostalgia to tell its story. You will be able to follow and enjoy this film even if you have not seen the first one.
Top Gun: Maverick was shot in IMAX and, boy, seeing those aerial scenes on a huge screen is incredible. See this in IMAX!