Released in 1986, Top Gun was a huge box office hit, launching Tom Cruise into super stardom, a status he still enjoys. A sequel seemed like a no-brainer. It didn’t happen. Sequels weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now, and according to producer Jerry Bruckheimer, “life got in the way.” More than thirty years later plans for a sequel were announced. Many (me included), wondered if this was just a blatant cash grab. Despite the pandemic, Tom Cruise and the filmmakers push back the film’s release until it could be seen in theaters.
Originally scheduled for release in 2019, Tom Gun: Maverick hit U.S. theater in May of 2022. An immediate smash, Maverick has raked in nearly 1.5 billion in worldwide box-office. It’s probably safe t5o assume we can expect a Top Gun 3, and we won’t have to wait thirty years.
After more than three decades in the Navy, Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise), is still the top test pilot, pushing the envelope and ignoring boundaries. He’s managed to avoid any advancement in rank that would ground him. After a death-defying stunt and on the brink of a dishonorable discharge, Maverick is back in his role as an instructor at Top Gun. He’s only there thanks to a call from his old friend, the Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer). He believes Maverick still has what it takes to prepare an elite group of pilots for a top secret, potentially suicidal mission. His new bosses, Admiral Beau Simpson (Jon Hamm) and Admiral Solomon Bates (Charles Parnell), are skeptical. Things get more complicated when Maverick learns that one of the pilots is Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his best friend/fellow pilot Goose, who died in an accident in the first film. An accident that still haunts Maverick.
The rest of the young guns have their own traits and quirks, but none of them are fully developed. The focus remains on Maverick and by extension, Rooster. The job of the remain young supporting cast is to support Maverick’s storyline. He’s still the best, no matter the situation. He has a love interest, on/off girlfriend Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) who reminds us that while Maverick is still a hunk, he must confront issues in his personal life, away from flying.
While only Cruise and Val Kilmer return, Top Gun: Maverick clings to nostalgia. The opening sequence is a carbon copy of the original, even including the accompaniment of Kenny Loggin’s “Danger Zone.” Even the story itself, training for a top-secret mission, has simply been modernized for today. Even so, Maverick is fun and exhilarating. In the original, director Tony Scott recreated adrenaline pumping flying sequences. Now in the hands of Joseph Kosinski, the director uses all the technology available to him (including cameras that can fly with the actors in planes), to create incredibly immersive flying sequences. Every time the pilots take to the sky is a real adrenaline rush.
Tom Cruise and Joseph Kosinski understand their creative mission. Allowing fans to soak in nostalgia yet examine the emotional baggage has made Maverick the man he is today. All the while, giving fans the aerial acrobatics, they expect.
Top Gun: Maverick appears in a variable aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 and 1.90:1 on the 4K UHD disc. About an hour of the movie uses the IMAX 1.90:1 ratio, with the rest at 2.39:1. Sharpness is pleasing throughout. Definition is solid, with no softness apparent. Colors are rendered well, particularly the low-key ambers that dominate the proceedings. Blacks are inky throughout and other deep tones are pleasing, as are the visuals. The HDR has left whites looking strong and appropriate.
The film offers a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1. the mix offers solid surround sound allowing the aerial sequences to impress. Effects are impressive and full. Audio quality is strong throughout. Music is lively and well placed. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise.
English, English SDH, Cantonese, Czech, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin America), French (Canada), Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Portugal), Roman, Simplified Chinese, Slovakian, Finnish, Swedish and Thai subtitles are included on the main feature.
The following special features are available:
- Cleared for Take Off (HD, 9:15) A look at the life-like aerial sequences, including Tom Cruise’s own training.
- Breaking New Ground – Filming Top Gun: Maverick (HD, 7:56) a look at the complex filming process, including the use of including building new cockpit cameras, jet exterior cameras, ground cameras and more.
- A Love Letter to Aviation (HD, 4:48) A look at Tom Cruise’s love for flying.
- Forging the Darkstar (HD, 7:31) A look at the hypersonic aircraft seen in the film.
- Masterclass with Tom Cruise: Cannes Film Festival (HD, 49:04) The actor discusses this film and his career.
- Music Video (HD, 3:52): “Hold My Hand” by Lady Gaga.
- Music Video (HD, 2:37): “I Ain’t Worried” by Onerepublic.
- Digital Copy of the film.
4K UHD Review: Top Gun - Maverick
Movie title: Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Country: 131 mins.
Author: Joseph Kosinski
Actor(s): Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Bashir Salahuddin, Jon Hamm