Top Gun is not just a film, but a precise way of thinking about cinema. Released in 1986, Tony Scott's second feature film wrote the history of the cult of the Seventh Art, perhaps among the fastest titles to rise to such a status, immediate, reasoned, pressing, and full of heart and vision. He cleared the talent of the younger Scott in a difficult and all-encompassing directorial test, forever stealing the heart of the fantastic '80s generation and growing that of the 90s with the myth of beauty and speed, embodied on the big screen by a then very young Tom Cruise. A product aged as well as its protagonist, with legs still strong and a hardened body despite the evident wrinkles of time. A reckless and exciting film, Top Gun, even if the technology of the times and the structural limits of the project did not allow the director or the actor to really gain altitude with the fantastic F-14s, arranging between studio reconstructions and detailed shots of maneuvers and routine stunts, including spectacular take-offs from military aircraft carriers.
Now, 36 years after that title that rightfully belongs to the Olympus of the unforgettable, Tom Cruise returns to play the role of the irreducible Pete Mithcell, in a sequel dedicated to precisely that way of thinking about cinema shaped by himself over time interpreter, by his stainless temper, by an impressive mix of stubbornness and star power. And the truth is that Top Gun: Maverick is one of the best "nostalgic" sequels ever to hit theaters so far, with something to tell and a sense of adrenaline to experience only and exclusively on the largest of screens possible.
Back to school
It seemed impossible to replicate without imitating step by step the atmospheres and cinematic depth of one of the most beloved cults of all time, yet Paramount Pictures, Joseph Kosinski, and of course Cruise have succeeded, creating a feature film born of our times but with an eye to a glorious and alluring past.
In fact, the pilot loses his fur but not his vice, allowing the viewer to instantly recognize the indomitable character of Mitchell, who has become a multi-decorated ship captain and is still in love with airplanes and adrenaline. Needless to say, when Maverick disobeys a direct order from one of his superiors, he is forced to return to TOPGUN, the combat school for the best pilots in the US Navy, this time as a teacher. His task is to train and then choose six students for an almost impossible mission, "from two miracles in one", having to face in the meantime the difficult relationship with Goose's son, Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw, and discovering himself little by little. wiser in his unattainable and charismatic temerity.
This is where the narrative soul of the sequel lies, in part written by the cruising companion McQuarrie, who sets out a clear and intelligent concept of reference to the first chapter, wisely taking its wake, supporting it in the psychological construction of relationships - including the inevitable clichés - and finally overcoming it without any hesitation in cinematic innovation. A credit that goes first to the production control of Cruise, in its far-sighted and clean way, then to the dialogues created by McQuarrie, Ehren Kruger, and Eric Warren Singer, and finally to the chosen protagonists, capable of perfectly embodying the roles of the new TOPGUN elite.
Apart from the constant presence of Cruise, Maverick is a basically choral film, a tug-of-war between character actors to win over the audience one scene after another, between the arrogant bully on duty, the only badass woman of the group, the introverted but biting Bob and Rooster. To step into the role of the latter there is an always good Miles Teller, conceptual and psychological crisis between Goose and Maverick, for physique-du-role and performance.
Also worth mentioning is the role of a sort of alternative "Viper" played by Jon Hamm and the love interest of Mithcell, Penny, embodied by a splendid Jennifer Connelly, partly inspired by Kelly McGills' "Charlie", sadly absent in the sequel - without particular specific weight on the plot. There are also moving surprises, as well as fundamental and very exciting are the themes of loss, inheritance, and rebirth, almost as if it were a therapeutic path for two opposite generations starting from different extremes to reunite and finally understand each other.
Need for speed
Net of so much melancholy goodness and writing, especially for a 1920s blockbuster that desperately wants to dress in the Eighties, the truth is that to elevate Top Gun above many competitors in the sector: Maverick is the courage of technical virtuosity, the spectacular action and the dynamism of sequences and shots, something truly unique and never experienced before.
Without hiding it, this is the real strong point of the sequel, the main rationale for the existence of a continuation tied to the double chord of technological evolution and the madness of a production subjected to the swagger and the condition sine qua non of Cruise. Focusing on the end of the era of dogfights and the beginning of that of drones, both in content and the visual aspects, the film focuses on the irreplaceable nature of pilots and the human element inside fighter jets. Thus it opens gracefully to the narration in the action, literally placing inside the cockpits of the F-18 of the Navy Cruise and its supporting actors, who at the same time become interpreters and directors, having to manage the film structure of the action in flight. . It is something tangible and evident, between distorting pressure and gravity and the rumble of engines and broken sound walls that upset the room, meanwhile addicted to so much spectacle. In imitating with extreme respect the initial mood conceived at the time by Tony Scott, Kosinski, and Cruise offers a captivating and visually superlative opening sequence, from Mach 10 filmographic, with a penetrating and overwhelming musical crescendo.
In the desire to remember the structure of the first Top Gun is barely repeated, then moving in a much more reckless and exciting direction in an imaginative sense. The training is a succession of reckless maneuvers and teachings at the limits of the plausible, with an amused Tom Cruise and always in part, still perfect, still Maverick in all respects. But it is in the final forty minutes that the film perhaps gives its best, raising the very sense of cinema with dedication and action storytelling among the best ever seen in the genre, leading us to live a disarming, tense, and extraordinary impact experience. at times unexpected and of sincere excitement, touching passion.
It is astonishing and alienating the emotional and visceral effect that an action in flight conceived and packaged so well can have on the heart and head of the spectator, both cinephile and fan. Something to experience live, indescribable. And the net of some extension in the simple intertwining, in an almost standardized repetition of events, Top Gun: Maverick manages to repeat with modernity, respect, and care the miracle performed in 1986 by Tony Scott: to propose a unique and innovative way of making cinema.
Top Gun: Maverick is one of the most successful and innovative sequels in the history of cinema. The narrative structure is standardized but in balance, in a story of mourning, inheritance, and rebirth where Tom Cruise remains the absolute protagonist in the game, surrounded by supporting characters in a continuous tug-of-war to conquer the scene from time to time. Bravo Miles Teller in the role of "Rooster", fundamental for the emotional and psychological growth of Pete - and vice versa -, as well as Jon Hamm in the role of the "new" Viper. Where the film becomes almost miraculous and truly unique, however, is in the visual and action system, in dynamic and reckless storytelling that enters the cockpit of the jet fighters together with its interpreters, making them both actors and also directors of the spectacular sequences. of flight. The training scenes were captivating, the final 40 minutes absolutely off the charts, for emotion, dedication, spectacularity, and cinematic logic. There is fidelity and love for a glorious past but also the desire to look ahead, beyond the horizon of the possible and experienced. A nostalgic and unsettling cinema, a reckless way of thinking big.