Most movie stars couldn’t pull off revisiting a character they first played on-screen over thirty-five years ago. But then, Tom Cruise has never been ‘most movie stars’. The ageless action man - more a force of nature than an actor - might have left it until almost his 60th birthday before releasing this sequel to the movie that made him a megastar (Covid delays didn’t help) but it’s a seamless follow-up to the 1986 smash. It deserves to be huge.
MORE: Top Gun: Maverick star shares details of meeting 'engaging' Prince William and Kate Middleton
Naval aviator Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Cruise) is now seeing out his twilight years as a military test pilot but after unsurprisingly winding up the top brass, he’s told he has to train a bunch of new ‘Top Gun’ academy graduates for a dangerous mission. Among them is a face Maverick knows well - Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Mav’s late best friend Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw. And Bradley’s none too happy to see the man he still blames for his father’s death.
WATCH: Tom Cruise in the Top Gun: Maverick trailer
Combining romance (Jennifer Connolly plays Penny, one of Maverick’s flames), eye-watering aerial action and that friction between two men still in mourning, Top Gun: Maverick is a masterful balancing act.
Miles Teller plays the son of Mav’s late best friend Goose
No scene outstays its welcome. There’s even a perfectly pitched moment featuring Tom’s original co-star Val Kilmer, whose ‘Iceman’ character is now an Admiral. It’s necessarily brief (Val’s real life health problems are well documented) but surprisingly beautiful.
MORE: Tom Cruise praises 'very special scene' with Top Gun star Val Kilmer
EXCLUSIVE: Top Gun: Maverick star Greg Tarzan Davis reveals what it's really like working with Tom Cruise
Will you be watching?
And whilst Top Gun: Maverick is obviously, like its predecessor, gutsy and gung-ho it feels less macho than the eighties original. So whilst there are still plenty of slow motion shots of jets, warships and ripped dudes with their tops off, fear and danger are also ever present. It takes skill and bravery to do what Maverick and his colleagues do but there’s also the sense that sometimes deciding to settle down is the bravest thing of all.
Like this story? Sign up to our What to Watch newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.