In Review

Top Gun: Maverick review - Tom Cruise makes a thrilling return

This ‘absurdly’ entertaining sequel is an ‘edge-of-your-seat, fist-pumping spectacular’

The original Top Gun propelled Tom Cruise from “a heart-throb to a household name”, said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph. With this “absurdly entertaining” late sequel, we have possibly the “Cruisiest” film to date. Within moments of the opening credits, Maverick – Cruise’s charismatic fictional fighter pilot – is recalled to his “old Top Gun stomping ground” to train a new generation of aviators who have assembled for a deadly mission: the neutralisation of a uranium enrichment plant in an unspecified location overseas. Among the youngsters is Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s friend Goose, who died in the first film. For my money, this is the best studio action movie since 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road; it is also “Dad Cinema at its eye-crinkling apogee – all rugged wistfulness and rough-and-tumble comradeship”, interspersed with flight sequences “so preposterously exciting” that they seem to invert the cinema “through 180 degrees”. 

This film isn’t short of “rock’n’roll fighter-pilot action”, said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian, but weirdly, it has none of the original’s “homoerotic tension”. “Where, oh where, is the towel round-the-waist, semi-nude locker-room intensity between the guys?” Weirder still, it’s even “less progressive on gender issues” than the 1986 blockbuster, which did at least put a woman in charge (Kelly McGillis’s civilian instructor). 

It’s true, the female roles here are pretty thankless, said Clarisse Loughrey on The Independent, but the film is so “damned fun” you forget to care. Director Joseph Kosinski has made “the kind of edge-of-your-seat, fist-pumping spectacular that can unite an entire room full of strangers sitting in the dark, and leave them with a wistful tear in their eye” to boot.

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