At this point, Top Gun Maverick is the most successful movie of the year.
It’s something that I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted and in a time when comic book movies dominate the landscape this has come out and completely knocked it out of the park. It’s easy to see why too. Though I didn’t even really like the first film all that much I think this is by far one of the best movies of the year if not one of the best sequels of all time.
I’ve wanted to do a perfect scene video on it for a while but the movie is just packed with them to the point that I don’t even think I could choose a specific one. Whether it’s how they handle Ice-Man, the scene in which Maverick shows the run can be done to his students or the final mission itself, it’s all laid out to feel like some of the best cinema that we’ve ever seen and it definitely deserves all the praise it’s getting.
Now throughout this, I want to talk about why I love the movie so much, what it does differently to other requels and also why it offers not only commentary on those but also the state of Hollywood in general.
How Does Maverick Stand Out?
There’s a style to modern reboots and in a lot of cases, they take an established character from an old franchise, show they ain’t s**t, have the new guys come in and pull them back so that they can sacrifice themselves so a new franchise can start with lesser versions at the helm.
There’s been this feeling in the fan community that a lot of what Hollywood does at the moment is that it destroys the legacy characters in favour of propping up the newer ones which can be seen across several movies.
The Last Jedi is a good example of this in that it takes the idea of Luke and the Jedi, deconstructs what this means and shows the flaws in the heroes that we grew up with. It then replaces them with the new generation and I know a lot of criticism about this technique in Hollywood is that it drops the ball with the characters that we love. I think The Last Jedi is alright but even Mark Hammill seemed a bit disappointed with how Luke went out and it’s important to note that Top Gun Maverick does the opposite.
It gives us the idea that just because someone is old, it doesn’t mean that they’re obsolete and this is exemplified in Maverick who constantly shows the new generation that they can learn from him. It’s a very important motif that is laced throughout the film at several points.
At the start, Maverick’s detail is threatened with being replaced by Ed Harris’ drone programme, he’s not initially allowed to go on the main mission himself and there’s this feeling that because he’s from the older generation that he’s to be ignored.
However, the whole movie is about showing that the old ways still work and this is even shown in the finale when we watch Rooster and Maverick flying an older jet as they go against the new 5th generation ones.
However, this idea extends beyond the film itself and I think once I go through this you’ll perhaps even appreciate the film more than you already do.
Tom Cruise is seen as the last movie star and even though he still looks great for his age he’s still seen as an older actor.
However, when you see what he does in his films it puts the younger generation to shame.
This is a guy who’s climbing skyscrapers, dangling off the side of planes as they take off and in this movie he also made sure that they used as little CGI as possible. This adds to the authenticity of the movie and in a time where films are often more CGI than not, he’s shown that the old ways are better.
Top Gun Maverick feels infinitely more impactful than a lot of movies released today because most of it is really happening.
You’re sat in the cockpit with the pilots themselves and you feel every single twist, turn and attack as they battle their way out.
You forget this is a movie. Something that pulls together over 100 years of filmmaking to make one of the most immersive experiences that you could ever have.
Now beyond this, the idea of the old ways being better also extends to its release.
In the pandemic, several studios realised that they were hitting a point where they had to release their movies on streaming services to make it so that they could still return a profit. Tom Cruise constantly pushed this film back because he wanted people to experience it in a theatre the way it was meant to be.
Again there’s this idea of the old ways being better than the new and in a time where it’s so easy to stay home and stream stuff, Maverick has shown that the Cinema is still relevant.
Watching this in IMAX completely blew me away and it’s one of the most visceral times I’ve ever had during a film.
The plot of Top Gun works so well because it’s structured in the same way as a heist movie. I know there are a lot of comparisons to A New Hope and yeah, let’s be honest the job itself is very similar to the trench run even down to them needing to hit a bullseye on a specific point.
However, I think that a New Hope is slightly more varied due to it featuring the space battle at the start, Tattooine, the Death Star, lightsaber fights, and then the final battle.
Love ’em both but I think Maverick is set up more like a heist where there’s this one job that the entire thing builds up to and they spend the majority of the movie planning towards this.
When they finally get to the mission things go wrong and they have to think on their feet to get out alive.
The enemy much like the police in a heist is closing in and they’re attempting to get out of there on a wing and a prayer before they get caught.
Now though it’s very flash and over the top in terms of its action set pieces, the film also has a real heart to it.
We discover that Goose’s son, Rooster, attempted to follow in his father’s footsteps but due to a promise made to his mother, Maverick has interfered with his career. Early on we cut to his hanger and see photos not only of Goose but also of his son, indicating how much Maverick cares for him.
However, Maverick holding him back creates tension between the two even though there’s clearly a lot of guilt still felt over the death of Goose.
Getting to Know the Characters
Now initially Maverick was brought in as a teacher who’s there to train the best of the best of the best sir. These Top Gun students have been hand-selected to be part of this highly imperative mission, we watch as Maverick tries to guide them but it’s clear that something is holding them back. Whether it’s Rooster flying too slow or Hangman leaving his team behind, they all have their faults but we watch as these are ironed out throughout the film.
Now Maverick isn’t perfect either and he has a bit of a strenuous relationship with not only Rooster but also Penny. This is a girl he ended up walking out on and though she still cares for him a lot it shows that he’s not been completely upstanding.
What can I say, he’s a bit of a Maverick.
On top of this, there’s also Ice Man who is handled in one of the most respectful ways that I think they could have done him. In case you don’t know, Val Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer and this made it extremely difficult for him to talk.
This is carried over to the character too and thus a lot of the time he talks through text. Thus when he actually speaks it means even more and his death carries a lot of impact because he was such a strong presence.
Now it’s clear that Jon Hamm’s Cyclone, bloody Jon Hamm, he doesn’t like the way Maverick does stuff and he kicks him out of Top Gun. He’s clearly more about the mission and doesn’t even mind that there will be lives lost. He takes over command and almost doubles the time limit for the job meaning that everyone will be sitting ducks once the job is over.
The Plot Summary
The entire team is down about the whole thing and they now believe that their lives will be lost because they’re not training to get out of there alive.
That’s when Maverick comes in, drops the time from 2:30 down to 2:15 and one-shots the entire thing to prove that it can be done.
It’ll make you fist pump the air and he’s brought back in for the mission.
It’s a real rush watching them doing it and the scene is elevated so much by the filming style of the movie. Being placed in the cockpit was fantastic and it adds even more weight to it because it feels like we’re on the job too.
However Maverick sacrifices his jet to save Rooster and this leaves him behind enemy lines.
Just as he’s about to face certain death Rooster saves his life and together the pair have to escape the cold, nondescript country before the chaos dies down and the bad guys have time to realise what’s going on.
In an inferior jet they face off in dogfights against jets that we’ve been told throughout are basically Terminators in the sky.
However, as the movie repeatedly tells us: it’s not the plane its the pilot
They actually come out on top too but upon making their way back to their ship another jet comes to play a game of chicken with them. This scene is shot expertly too with us truly believing that this might be the end of them. However, Han Sol…sorry Hangman comes in at the last second and he also redeems the faults that he’s been told he has throughout the movie.
Together Maverick and Rooster hug it out with the latter saying that he saved him because it’s what his dad would’ve done.
Even with a salute from Cyclone, this moment hit me so hard and the celebration beautifully echoed the one at the end of the first one that his father sadly wasn’t there for.
Maverick made a promise throughout the movie that he’d make sure everyone got home and he very much did. Most films like this would require some sort of sacrifice with a hero going out in a blaze of glory but this film brings everyone back.
Traditional Movie Style
It’s very aspirational and in a time where films tend to be tearing down what’s come before to tell us how bad it all was, Top Gun Maverick has a very traditional style that feels inspirational more than anything. Watching Rooster take the hit in the training mission and then at the end against Maverick shows what kind of person you can be and I think this idea stems from Maverick and it even affects others.
Hangman has a complete change of heart and everyone in the movie grows in a way that leaves them better off than they were when they started.
It shows that the past should be celebrated, that there’s still relevancy in the things that people are trying to replace and hell, the movie is just a good time. We close out with Lady Gaga’s Hold My Hand which perfectly fits the final flight with Penny and Maverick.
Watching Jennifer Connelly standing next to the sports car feels like a classic throwback to movies of yesteryear and seeing the two soar through the sky as the sunsets is a beautiful way to end the movie. Laced throughout this are shots of Rooster and the photo of him and his father getting a new addition with the celebration on the ship.
It closes out what is this perfect film that though slightly by the numbers shows that sometimes the old ways are the best.
Whether it’s the practicality of the effects, the dedication that the cast put into making sure the scenes were as real as they could be or the respect that it shows its characters, everything here works.
Top Gun Maverick is a classic and in years to come, it’ll be seen as the blueprint of how to do a Hollywood movie that brings people together rather than dividing them.
I really believe it’s something that everyone can find enjoyment in and I hope you had as much fun listening to me talk about it as I did making this video.
I’d obviously love to hear your thoughts on it so make sure you comment below and let me know.