After more than 30 years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs—pushing the envelope hard as a test pilot and dodging an advancement in rank that would ground him. A commanding officer (Ed Harris) growls to Maverick, “You can’t get a promotion, you won’t retire, and despite your best efforts, you refuse to die. You should at least be a two-star admiral by now, yet here you are, captain. Why is that?”
Maverick can’t resist a smirked response: “It’s one of life’s mysteries, sir.”
Are you ready to feel the need for speed again? “Top Gun: Maverick” zooms onto the scene before long, 34 years after the first box office smash of “Top Gun” that cemented Cruise’s status as a bona fide movie star.
Cruise, still looking “GQ”-magazine striking at age 57, again dons his cooler-than-cool aviator sunglasses and leather jacket. Now he’s a flight instructor rather than a hotshot pilot, a hands-on teacher who silences the smug young recruits seated before him in a classroom by challenging two at a time to practice dogfighting with him.
But Maverick must also confront past ghosts, and he is inexorably drawn into a confrontation with his deepest fears. This culminates in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice for those who will be chosen to fly it.
Along the way, we are treated to several reminders of the 1986 breakout flick. Pilots sing at a bar. An occasional fistfight erupts. Sports are played on the beach (football, not volleyball, this time). And Maverick roars down the highway on his motorcycle, an action that almost seems to be mandatory for every film Cruise shoots. There’s also a cameo appearance from Cruise’s original rival, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer).
“Top Gun: Maverick” spends more time than before with Cruise in the cockpit. We see him going through some impressive—and risky—flight maneuvers as a voiceover explains to the training program’s students (and to the viewing audience, as well) that Maverick is one of the finest pilots to ever emerge from the prestigious Top Gun flight academy.
Six IMAX-quality cameras in the cockpit depict the cast members enduring flight training alongside U.S. Navy pilots. “Everything you see in this film,” Cruise reportedly told people at the latest Comic-Con convention. “I wanted to give you an experience of being inside that aircraft.”
New cast members include comely Jennifer Connelly (who replaces Kelly McGillis as Maverick’s love interest), Jon Hamm, Miles Teller and Anthony Edwards.
“Top Gun: Maverick” releases in June.