Thirty-six years after winning our hearts by leading one of the coolest pilot films of all time, Tom Cruise is finally back as Maverick in the second installment of Top Gun
. Top Gun: Maverick
follows him from thirty-six years after the events of the last film. Now he’s close to being retired from the navy. However, he’s given one final chance at staying involved in the matters of the navy flight division. This time, he’ll be teaching new recruits for a daring mission, preparing them for infiltration and extraction to pull off an apparently impossible plan. And among the recruits is the son of his old partner who died in Top Gun
. Played by Miles Teller, Rooster is a reminder to Maverick of what had happened, and the film mainly tells the story of how they work out their differences, how Maverick inspires his trainees to give it their all, and eventually approach the mission head-on.
Among other characters from the previous film who appear is Val Kilmer as Iceman. Then there’s Jennifer Connelly as the one and only Penny Benjamin. In Top Gun
, she had only been named as someone with whom Maverick had fooled around as a youngster. Top Gun: Maverick just hints at a complicated past for the two and clarifies the infamous incident that the characters alluded to in the first film, but doesn’t spend hours giving us a timeline of their relationship. And the most charming part of the duo’s screen presence is Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly’s chemistry. They seamlessly seem to acknowledge years of past encounters despite basically playing the two characters in a film for the first time. You won’t realize that they aren’t old flames reuniting under new circumstances.
Miles Teller also beautifully fits into his role as Goose’s son, with the makeup department giving him a mustache that makes him practically a spitting image of Anthony Edwards who played Goose in Top Gun
. His chemistry with Cruise is central to Top Gun: Maverick
and the drama is well complemented by their performances. Actually, just like the first film, there’s a lot of heart in the film that’s treated lightly as the secondary subject matter as compared to the flight scenes. That may sound like it makes the film flippant but in fact, it adds a charm to the entire affair. For one, the thrill of the ride becomes the primary focus and for two, the brevity of the drama scenes actually leaves enough time for rumination to make the resolutions convincing despite being simplified.
No matter how much the films are basically just white men being macho, often throwing around weight, conforming to toxic masculine norms, there’s at least some powerful female presence. Charlotte from Top Gun
(Kelly McGillis) was predictably much sexualized and that did take away some of the empowerment the creators were going for in including her in the long list of characters, but in