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Top Gun: Maverick succeeds in improving on the original

After three-and-a-half decades, Tom Cruise returned to the danger zone in Top Gun: Maverick.

The long-awaited and oft-delayed sequel to one of the action star’s earliest movies finds Pete “Maverick” Mitchell still pushing limits flying for the United States Navy. Mitchell, still only a captain, flies as a test-pilot for a hyper-sonic spy plane capable of reach 10 times the speed of sound.

Unfortunately, the program he flies for is targeted to be shut down so that the funds can be transferred to an unmanned aerial vehicle program. In a bid to continue the program, Mitchell risks his career, and the aircraft, to keep the funding for the program. While ultimately successful, the admiral overseeing Mitchell removes him from the program to face disciplinary action.

Before any disciplinary action can take place, Mitchell’s guardian angel and long-time friend and colleague, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazanzky, now commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, has orders drafted sending Mitchell back to Top Gun to train a group of recent program graduates for an impossible mission.

Top Gun: Maverick takes everything that was great about the first movie, and amplifies it. Not only is Maverick a worthy successor to the original, in my opinion it out does the original in several ways.

While Mitchell is still one of the best pilots in the United States Navy, he has only survived in his career as long as he has through the help of Kazanzky due to his alluded to continual habit of angering commanders.

From the early scenes of the film, the viewer can tell that Mitchell is still haunted by the ghost of Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, his one time radar intercept officer (RIO) who was killed during the events of the original movie.

A complicating factor for Mitchell when he returns to Top Gun is one of the recent graduates assigned for this impossible mission is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw; Goose’s son.

Aside from the emotional elements of the story, another area where the film drastically out does the original comes to visual effects.

At Cruise’s insistence, as much of the film as possible was shot practically without the use of green screens or special effects. This meant that special cameras were installed into the cockpits of the F-18 Super Hornets which were used in the movie, and while the actors didn’t actually fly the aircraft, their reactions to the maneuvers are real because they actually happened.

According to one article I read, the pilots of the aircraft in the film were actually members of the United States Blue Angels aerobatic demonstration team.

One last element that I thought was tastefully done was how the movie included Val Kilmer and his character Kazanzky in the film.

Kilmer had essentially retired from acting several years ago. In 2017 the actor revealed that the reason for his absence from the silver screen was his diagnosis and treatment for throat cancer, a condition which took away his ability to speak.

While Kilmer’s cancer is now several years in remission, his voice is permanently affected. However, Cruise pushed to have Kilmer included in Maverick. The writers wrote Kilmer’s character as having throat cancer, and did so in a tasteful way. While his character mainly communicated through typing, thanks to artificial intelligence, Kilmer’s voice was returned, for one scene anyways.

Top Gun: Maverick will tick boxes for a lot of movie lovers. This is a movie for aviation buffs, military buffs, action buffs and drama buffs alike.

Both movies, Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick can also be used together as a character study in the character of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

It’s definitely worth checking out on the big screen.

See you at the movies!

Entertainment