‘Top Gun: Maverick’: Still got that loving feeling

Ben Nietzel
Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

Muscatine Living

More than 30 years later, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell comes blasting back onto the big screen in “Top Gun: Maverick,” the sequel to 1986’s “Top Gun.”

Pro – The need for speed

It’s actually shocking that Hollywood doesn’t just produce a fighter jet movie every five years. It’s even more shocking that a film as successful as “Top Gun” took so long to produce an easy crash-grab sequel. Yet, fighter jet movies are almost non-existent, and fans of “Top Gun” had to wait 36 years for this film.

Perhaps an even bigger shock is that not only does “Top Gun: Maverick” live up to it’s famous older brother, it surpasses It in every regard. The huge gulf in time actually works in the film’s favor. Instead of a reheated version of the first movie that would have likely followed in the first few years after it’s release, this film finds the titular star at the tail end of his career. Having failed to get promoted through self-sabotage and poor decisions, Maverick is one mistake away (and the protection of his old buddy Iceman, Val Kilmer) from washing out of the Navy completely. When a highly specific mission becomes necessary, Maverick is given a final chance to train the next generation of world-class pilots. While not unique, this premise allows the film to feel fresh compared to the original while still retaining all the awesomeness that makes it “Top Gun.”

Pro – Squirrel poop

Say what you want about Tom Cruise (and there is plenty to say) but there is not another man in Hollywood who is both so fully committed to and so active in his work. The man simply goes into every role with full gusto, doing his own stunts, acting like he’s fighting for his next gig, and fully committing to the character. It doesn’t hurt one bit that at 59-years-old, Cruise still looks better than the 25-year-old version of most men. This really works here, as Cruise looks older for sure, but sill in great enough shape to jump in a $57 million plane and not just be trusted to fly it, but to fly the hell out of it. The supporting cast is as good as it is big. Miles Teller deserves a nod as Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, son of Maverick’s late RIO “Goose.”

Pro – Good Tone

It’s easy to forget in a medium dominated by superheroes, aliens, and cowboys that real life heroes exist and do their job every day. “Top Gun: Maverick” is a great reminder that real life is pretty darn exciting too. Planes are landing on aircraft carriers (a underappreciated modern marvel), missiles flying, bird strikes, aerial combat, and supersonic flight are all on the table in this film, and while the story isn’t true or even likely, the actions depicted can and are done by real people every day. It’s as humbling as it is exciting.

“Top Gun: Maverick” is a great film, and superior to it’s predecessor in every way. That’s a feat that was more unrealistic to pull off than any in the film. It’s got action, fun, and best of all it’s grounded (mostly) in reality. It’s the best film of the year, and it needs to be seen, heard, felt, and experienced on the big screen in a room full of excitement. Buzz the tower on your way the Fridley Palms Theatre to check this blockbuster out!

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