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AutoMatters & More: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ review

“Top Gun: Maverick” theater lobby displays
“Top Gun: Maverick” theater lobby displays

(Jan Wagner)

Once, in a very long while, a movie comes along that succeeds on multiple levels. “Top Gun: Maverick” is such a movie.

To prepare for the press preview screening, a couple of days before that I watched the original “Top Gun” from 1986. It had been a very long time since I had last seen it. I wanted it to be fresh in my mind. I’d recommend that you do the same, since the new version is a natural progression of what came before.

On the one hand it is a terrific action-adventure movie that is, at the very least, a worthy successor to the original “Top Gun.” Unlike many sequels, it more than lives up to the original.

It most certainly benefits from decades-newer movie-making technology. In this instance, that is a very good thing. Yes, there are special effects where they were needed (they could not actually blow up planes with human pilots flying them!), but they are not obvious as special effects. They look very real.

Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
(2022 Courtesy Paramount Pictures)

However, what really makes “Top Gun: Maverick” stand out, and for which you really should see this more than once, are the precision flying maneuvers performed by actual Top Gun pilots, close to the deck and precariously close to mountains, and the physical effects on the cast in the cockpits. You will hold your breath.

Some of the scenes in the movie that added tremendously to the jaw-dropping factor showed unplanned, accidental events that occurred during filming. In one case, a set was accidentally destroyed, to great visual effect. These were one-take shots that were not repeated.

If you just cannot wait to see them in a theater, you can see some of those practical effects here, in this official Paramount Pictures trailer: https://youtu.be/qSqVVswa420

To prepare for the intense and extensive flying sequences in U.S. Navy F/A-18 jets, Tom Cruise returned to MCAS Miramar to undergo a full ASTC (Aviation Survival Training Curriculum). As did “Maverick,” the character who Cruise portrays in the films, he constantly tested the limits of himself and his profession. His goal was to shoot as much as possible with practical effects, as opposed to with computer-generated special effects — and he did that. He and the other actors were actually flying in the planes in the flying sequences. That was no easy task. In the original “Top Gun,” the in-cockpit footage of cast members other than Cruise could not be used. They could not handle the stresses. This time around, Cruise insisted that the cast become accustomed to “the fundamentals and mechanics of flight and G-forces.” They trained for months in advance.

Monica Barbaro and Tom Cruise on the set
Monica Barbaro and Tom Cruise on the set
(2022 Courtesy Paramount Pictures)

If you enjoyed the original music, you will like this too. I kept replaying “Danger Zone” over and over again in my head, long after I left the theater.

SPOILER ALERT: Here is a brief synopsis, courtesy of Paramount Pictures:

“After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: ‘Rooster,’ the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka ‘Goose’.”

Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
(2022 Courtesy Paramount Pictures)

“Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.”

So, will there be another sequel to “Top Gun”? I kind of doubt it. This one is so good you’ll want to see it more than once. I know that I will. Nevertheless, Tom Cruise is keeping very busy these days. “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning (Part One)” is scheduled for release in 2023. Check out the official trailer: https://youtu.be/2m1drlOZSDw

Movie poster with Tom Cruise
Movie poster with Tom Cruise
(2022 Courtesy Paramount Pictures)

Perhaps Tom Cruise should be the next James Bond. I wonder if he can do a British accent?

To see the most photos and the latest text, and to explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, visit AutoMatters & More at AutoMatters.net. On the Home Page, search by title or topic, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes.

Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #743


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