Joseph Kosinski’s sequel to Tony Scott’s blockbuster exceeds expectations
Telling the new generations what Top Gun meant to people born between the 70s and 80s is not easy. Tony Scott’s 1986 film, which imagined the life of cadets in the United States Navy Fighter Weapon School, created an unimaginable enthusiasm when it was released: besides launching trends (from bomber jackets to Ray Ban’s Aviator glasses), mobile recruiting booths were installed outside cinemas and the US Navy stated the number of young men who joined to be Naval Aviators went up by 500%.
Even those who were allergic to uniforms wanted to wear one, it was the film that cemented Tom Cruise’s status an Hollywood star, the one that people remember for Harold Faltermeyer’s magnificent score and for the ballad written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock for Berlin, Take My Breath Away, which won an Oscar.
The idea of a sequel, that comes 36 years after the original and 10 after Tony Scott’s death, was and still is unthinkable, but here it is: attempting the feat, the American director Joseph Kosinski who, somehow, had shown to manage well the “American heroes” subject with Only The Brave (2017). Kosinski returns with part of the original cast, Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, and some notable new entries such as Miles Teller, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm.
Top Gun: Maverick was filmed between 2018 and 2019 and, after several postponements due to the pandemic, it debuts in Italy on May 25 and on May 27, 2022, in the U.S. distributed by Paramount Pictures.
The story is set 34 years after the events of the first film: Pete “Maverick” Mitchell has become Captain and, maybe due to his well-known intolerance of rules, without remarkable career advancements. The United States Navy Fighter Weapon School is now equipped with new generation aircrafts but, despite technological progress, it has to face the decisions of the Pentagon, which prefers to invest in faster and more precise drones, rather than educating other fighter pilots. After proving that it is worth betting on men rather than on machines, Maverick is recalled to duty in San Diego by his friend and ex rival Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky: Maverick has 3 weeks to train the new pilots of the school for a difficult and dangerous mission. The presence in the class of LT Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, complicates the situation: he is the son of Nick “Goose”, Maverick’s longtime flight partner, who died during a mission. Maverick never got over that trauma and has rejected his son’s application to the Navy several times, to protect him and keep a promise made to his mother. Their relationship doesn’t start in the best way as well as the one with the new recruits, that takes days to grow: Maverick will have to teach his students to work as a team to complete the mission successfully and bring them back home safe and sound.
What you might expect from Top Gun: Maverick is a very emotional film, mainly playing with nostalgia and the emotional aspect is there, but it is not the only one. The plot starts from the confrontation between old and new: there’s a traumatic and omnipresent past, but Maverick is offered an opportunity to overcome it with his new role as a teacher. Also, love returns from his recent past (Penny, played by Jennifer Connelly), there is “Iceman”, former “hothead”, now an aged and sick but wise man, who knows how to direct a friend towards the right decisions. The fact that Val Kilmer battled an illness in real life makes their friendship even more moving: after denying, in 2020 the actor talked publicly about his throat cancer, from which he recovered some years ago. Due to operations and two tracheotomies, he was never able to talk normally again. In recent years his voice has been recreated thanks to Artificial Intelligence and archival material.
The soundtrack is entrusted to three big names in music industry: Harold Faltermeyer himself, Hans Zimmer and Lady Gaga. She had to come up with a new song for the film: the tune is Hold My Hand, an epic yet sentimental power ballad. If the first impact is not convincing, wait and listen how Hans Zimmer treated it in the score. The soundrack includes the old themes by Faltermeyer (that we love), as well as some Kenny Loggins and the novelties brought by Hans Zimmer and Lady Gaga: there’s a fabulous continuity in the music that supports well the images.
There is so much in Top Gun: Maverick: tension, action, comedy and emotions that will make your heart sink. Those 131 minutes fly fast, like the pilots’ aircrafts.
The actors and the director live up to the importance of the film: Kosinski dedicates its sequel to Tony Scott who, surely, would have praised it.