Top Gun: Maverick

My Thoughts On The Film And What Comes Next

Spoiler Free!

For good reason, fuelled by a trend of failed franchise reboots or sequels such as Fantastic Four(2015) and Terminator Salvation(2009), that despite being of varying quality undeniably failed at rekindling any enthusiasm amongst audiences, I was wary going into the anticipated sequel of the 1986 epic Top Gun; however it is now safe to say my lack of faith was completely and utterly misplaced.

There is no doubt that conforming to a general formula of a generic and expected storyline would still have drawn impressive numbers at the box office given the nostalgia that accompanies the Top Gun name; however from the quality of writing to the superb direction of Joseph Kosinski, this film ticked all my boxes, and is indisputably a credit to the franchise. Despite the film as a whole getting what equates to a 9.5/10 rating in my book, there were still undoubtedly a few highlights that deserve honourable mention. The introduction of Rooster played by the sensational Miles Teller had every opportunity to become cliche and overly rooted in the nostalgia that formed his back story, however his character transpired to be one of the most well written and impressive takeaways from the movie as a whole. A compelling combination of the grief Maverick felt for the death of his late father Goose, accompanied by his determination to reach the heights of the Navy, swiftly became the catalyst for a complex and intense relationship between the pilot and his teacher that supplemented the main storyline perfectly, supplemented by the superb performance of Tom Cruise; a predisposition for most projects he lends his talent to.

Yet another highlight of the movie was the performance of Glen Powell as the narcissistic and boastful Hangman; acting as the perfect antagonist for Rooster’s character, whilst also portraying a redemption story that transpires to morph audience opinions of the pilot by the film’s conclusion. Moreover, the standout performances of Cruise, Teller and Powell are complimented by their Top Gun compatriots, such as Monica Barbaro as Phoenix, Lewis Pullman as Bob and Danny Ramirez as Fanboy, who all provide notable performances that allow for their ‘big name’ co-stars to flourish in such a manner. In addition, the blossoming romance between Captain Pete Mitchell and Penny Benjamin (the infamous Admiral’s daughter mentioned, but not seen in the original Top Gun movie), played by Jennifer Connelly, is incorporated into the overarching storyline seamlessly, and does not seem at all abrupt or forced; adding a new element to the story that makes the eventual climax even more impactful, by raising the already monumental stakes for Maverick. I could continue this article for hours reeling off standout performances by the likes of Jon Hamm and more, but it transpires that the writing of this highly anticipated sequel lends itself perfectly to a collective of highly talented actors that played their respective roles to perfection. Top Gun: Maverick embodies the perfect balance of nostalgia, culminating with the appearance of the notorious Iceman played by Val Kilmer, that did not seem at all artificial, with a fresh and exciting storyline; of course accompanied by astounding special effects and action sequences that are aesthetically pleasing, as well as gripping. It is no surprise that Cruise’s most recent triumph opened at a well deserved $156 million, boasting the lowest subsequent weekend drop-off ever for a film that debuted at over the 100 million mark, and surprisingly marking the first time in his illustrious career that Cruise has ever surpassed this milestone.

Nonetheless, despite the success of the blockbuster both in the box office and as a phenomenal legacy sequel, this begs the alarming question; what is next for the Top Gun franchise? I’d like to begin by stating that in my opinion, unless Paramount decides to take the movies in a completely different direction, this should be the end of the line for these daring pilots. On the back of box office statistics that surpassed even expert’s predictions, it has surely crossed the minds of the shot callers at the studio that further iterations of the Navymen would be an enticing and lucrative venture, however I am of the firm belief that the nostalgia that fuelled the initial response to this movie would either have burnt out, or to put it bluntly, would be misplaced in a project purely motivated by financial gain. Regardless of these thoughts, if further movies under the Top Gun umbrella were to be greenlit, I think there are a few already introduced directions these projects could be taken in. Firstly, I think there is without doubt more to be told about one of the standout performers of Maverick, Miles Teller’s Rooster. I think the mantle that Tom Cruise has held all of these years as the face of Top Gun would have to be passed down, and that a new and enthralling story would have to provide the impetus to draw viewers, as opposed to the sentimentality that drew audiences in abundance to this most recent release. Miles Teller is a versatile and respected actor of a very high calibre, that I have no doubt would play a stellar role, whether it be a prequel to his character arc in Maverick, or a sequel; but I do believe that the execution of such a film would have to be perfection to avoid tainting the sterling legacy the studio has created thus far. Another idea that comes to mind would be a story following Glen Powell’s Hangman subsequent to the events of Maverick and the transformation of his character, but I do think the former would be the most efficacious way to continue a franchise that has captivated so many during its time on screen; provided that those at Paramount are resolute in their desire to continue.

To recap, Top Gun: Maverick has proved to be an almost flawless legacy sequel to the universally loved 1986 blockbuster, coming in at an impressive 9.5 rating from me; however I would urge those in charge to think twice and not push their luck when deliberating the franchise’s future. They have already created arguably two masterpieces in the world of cinema that have captivated the world over, do not tarnish that legacy in pursuit of further financial gain.

By Joe Baker