Emma’s Top Gun: Maverick review


Gemma Nishimura

“Top Gun: Maverick” movie logo.

Emma Lopez, Story Editor

Back in the 80’s, “Top Gun” (1986) was released. It told the story of an aviator named Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) who was transferred to Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun). Top Gun is a military school where the top 1% in the U.S. Navy goes to enhance their skills in aviation and compete to be the best in the class. On May 27, 2022, the sequel for “Top Gun”, “Top Gun: Maverick” (2022) was released. Taking place 30 years later, Maverick is stationed at Top Gun as an instructor. Though I’m not a fan of military-related movies, this motion picture is in my top ten. This sequel is such a phenomenal addition to Maverick’s story and character. The cinematography, characters, and plot are truly unique, and if you’re new to the Top Gun chain, you don’t have to watch the first film to acknowledge the eminence of the film.

One Sunday morning, my parents announced that we had tickets to see “Top Gun: Maverick”, and I was already contemplating sneaking out of the theater room to watch the 4:30 showing of Where the Crawdads Sing (2022). Before watching the film, I did some research and discovered that it was related to the Air Force, and that subject never piqued my interest. Military-related motion pictures aren’t really my cup of tea. My father watched a ton of military-related films and often invited me to sit on the couch and watch them with him, but I usually rejected those invites. I’m still not a fanatic for that genre of movies, but “Top Gun: Maverick” is different–I promise!

Before I entered the theater, I told myself that 20 minutes into “Top Gun: Maverick” I would leave the room and watch Where the Crawdads Sing, but by that time I was already hooked. At the beginning of the film, the moment when Maverick test-piloted an aircraft and reached an elevated speed, I was automatically enamored by this film’s scene and special effects. The power these planes possessed was beautifully portrayed at the start of the film and continued until the end. I was on the edge of my seat throughout this motion picture, and I’m aware that’s the purpose of action films, but I never really cared for action movies prior to this movie.

The plot itself is unique. I originally believed that the film would come out to be a cliche military movie where the guy got the girl and returned home to a family. Though it did have those elements, the story was so much more than that. The story linked to the original storyline of the first film, but you didn’t need to know about that connection when watching the film. Maverick’s transition from a student at Top Gun to teaching at Top Gun is something prodigious to see–even if you hadn’t watched the first movie! Sure, Maverick’s instructional position at the aviator school was more emotional in the eyes of my parents, but all in all, it was a show-stopping movie with action, tension, and romance all around.

Speaking of romance, including Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) into the film was not a bad idea. In comparison to the original 1986 film with Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood (Kelly McGillis) and Maverick’s relationship, Penny and Mavericks’ relationship was much more mature. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re older, but I prefer their relationship rather than the student-teacher relationship Maverick had with Charlie. Maverick and Charlie were all over the place in my opinion, and Penny’s appearance in “Top Gun: Maverick” was a great addition to Maverick’s story and love life. Honestly, the film didn’t need it, but it was fun to see overall.

In addition, the tension between Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller) and Maverick was something that drove the story and made it all the more captivating. Though I wasn’t familiar with the backstory between Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) and Maverick, I had a hunch because of the bad blood Rooster and Maverick had. Eventually, clips of Goose’s final moments with Maverick filled in the gaps, but I wanted a full backstory, so I watched the first Top Gun at home when I came back from the theater.

One thing I can conclude from the first film and the sequel is that some scenes and characters mirrored that of those from the 1986 film. For example, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) and Jake “Hangman” Seresin (Glen Powell). Both of these characters were often neck-in-neck with the main protagonist of the story–Maverick and Rooster–but the pairs made amends by the conclusion of the film. These characters were the individuals who wanted to be the best out of their class, and they sacrificed all that they could for that title. They often tormented the main characters, but they came around at the end and made amends.

Character development was also a satisfying concept to see on screen. Hangman was initially a rude and conceited character at the beginning of the film. Him and Rooster were both neck-and-neck to be the leader of the mission and be the best. The two had bad blood, but they overcame it. Hangman’s character development was something I enjoyed seeing. His selfish characteristics displayed his true colors, but he came through and aided Rooster when he needed it the most.

Casting was also on point for this film. First, Tom Cruise aged very eloquently, and his returning appearance was remarkable to see on the big screen. Second, Miles Teller was perfectly cast as Goose’s son. In comparison to Anthony Edwards’s visage back in the 80’s, the two look extremely similar. The facial similarities the two had may have been a choice made by the casting team, but besides that Miles Teller looks like Goose’s son. All the characters in this film had a talented actor/actress portraying them, and this really brought the story to life. Alongside the cinematography and scenes, the motion picture is unarguably a work of art.

To add, Natasha “Phoenix” Trace (Monica Barbaro) was an outstanding character. Presenting a woman in this male-dominated industry was phenomenal. Being the only woman in that sector was truly inspiring in my perspective and undoubtedly motivational for other women. Phoenix demonstrated that a woman can do the same things as a man and significantly more. When the 1986 Top Gun was released, no women were at the Top Gun school alongside Maverick and Goose. The only woman in sight was Charlie, but she was a teacher. During that time, only men were in the U.S. Navy while women specialized in other professions. By incorporating a woman into a movie like this was encouraging, and although Phoenix experienced some sexist remarks by her classmates, she never let those comments get to her. Her character captivated what it’s like as a woman and a male-dominated field, and it also projected a strong disposition that other young girls can reflect.

Overall, “Top Gun: Maverick” is a spectacular film that I believe everyone should see. If not Maverick, watch the first movie Top Gun–but I promise Maverick is much, much better. So many components in this movie make it all worthwhile, and I’m confident that others will adore this movie as much as I did.