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Tom Cruise ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ praised in film reviews by movie critics

Maverick is back on the big screen and film critics are hailing it as a triumphant return for Tom Cruise, praising the actor’s awe-inspiring stunts flying an actual fighter jet in Top Gun: Maverick. 

The sequel to Tony Scott’s classic 1986 blockbuster has been unanimously praised in early reviews with one even declaring that it ‘improves upon the original in every conceivable way.’ 

Cruise, 59, has reprised his role US Navy pilot LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, and reunites with Val Kilmer who is also back in a small cameo part playing LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky.

Variety film critic Peter Debruge calls the film a ‘barrier-breaking sequel’ that succeeds because of its ‘perfectly coordinated teamwork’ among six pilots, rather than it being ‘The Tom Cruise Show.’ 

Maverick’s triumphant return! Tom Cruise’s ‘exhilarating’ Top Gun 2 is praised by film critics in rave first reviews saying it ‘improves upon the original in every conceivable way’

Cruise, who is famous for doing his own stunts, is said to have trained to withstand g-force power and actually flew in real fighter jets for the sequel.

‘These days, videogame-styled blockbusters rely so heavily on CGI that it’s thrilling to see the impact of gravity on actual human beings, pancaked to their chairs by multiple G-forces,’ Debruge enthuses. 

‘The result is the most immersive flight simulator audiences will have ever experienced, right down to the great Dolby roar of engines vibrating through their seats.’

Peter Hoskin for the Daily Mail gave the film five stars, writing: ‘Whenever the film threatens to become too cosy, it shocks itself – and us – back into the present with another madly ambitious action sequence.’

‘The final mission, with fighter jets buzzing around a snowscape, is an astonishing display of film-making bravado. It’s loud, sometimes silly, often crazy. But in the end, the moral of the heart-stopping story is clear: Tom Cruise is a rootin’-tootin’ hero. 

Wow factor: Variety hails the film as a 'barrier-breaking sequel' that succeeds because of its 'perfectly coordinated teamwork' among six pilots, rather than it being 'The Tom Cruise Show'

Wow factor: Variety hails the film as a ‘barrier-breaking sequel’ that succeeds because of its ‘perfectly coordinated teamwork’ among six pilots, rather than it being ‘The Tom Cruise Show’

Critic David Ehrlich also praised the technical milestones in his review for IndieWire, writing: ‘Watching Cruise pilot a fighter jet 200 feet above the floor of Death Valley, corkscrew another one through Washington’s Cascade Mountains, and give one of the most vulnerable performances of his career while sustaining so many G-forces that you can practically see him going Clear in real-time, you realize — more lucidly than ever before — that this wild-eyed lunatic makes movies like his life depends on it. Because it does, and not for the first time.’

CNN’s Brian Lowry gushed over the film: ‘Nimbly mixing nostalgia and full-throttle action, Top Gun: Maverick soars higher than it has any right to, constructing a mostly terrific sequel 36 years later (including a Covid release delay), using a good but not great movie as its jumping-off point.’

Adding: ‘That might not be enough to take your breath away, but as brawny summer entertainment goes, it comes shockingly close.’

USA Today’s Brian Truitt raved over the breathtakingly ambitious aerial shots from director Joseph Kosinski, who Cruise previously worked with on the sci-fi film Oblivion. 

Stunning visuals: USA Today's Brian Truitt noted the breathtaking aerial shots from director Joseph Kosinski, who Cruise previously worked with on the sci-fi film Oblivion

Stunning visuals: USA Today’s Brian Truitt noted the breathtaking aerial shots from director Joseph Kosinski, who Cruise previously worked with on the sci-fi film Oblivion

G-force: Cruise is famous for doing his own stunts, and trained to withstand g-force power and actually flew in real fighter jets for the sequel

G-force: Cruise is famous for doing his own stunts, and trained to withstand g-force power and actually flew in real fighter jets for the sequel

‘As insanely cool as the aerial dogfight scenes were in the original, the sequel’s action sequences level them up with unreal camera angles and nonstop tension,’ Truitt writes. 

‘Kosinski aims to make moviegoers feel what it’s like to have your head squished by G-forces and wonder where in the blue blazes the bad guys are coming from. Toss in the unmistakable Harold Faltermeyer theme and it’s like you’re 10 years old again, watching Maverick rule the air the first time around.’

The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney also praises Cruise’s abilities in the air: ‘”It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot,” we hear more than once. And Cruise leaves no question that he’s the pilot, despite hiring a pro craft team and a solid ensemble cast who were put through extensive flight training.’

The original: Tom Cruise pictured in the 1986 classic directed by Tony Scott, which grossed $357million at the box office against a $15million budget

The original: Tom Cruise pictured in the 1986 classic directed by Tony Scott, which grossed $357million at the box office against a $15million budget

‘Even the relic F-14 Tomcat, Maverick’s tactical fighter plane of choice in the first movie, gets fired up for a glory lap, a salute to aged movie stars and old technology in one.’

Ross Bonaime wrote in his A grade review for Collider that the sequel ‘improves upon the original in every conceivable way,’ and that it ‘is the rare case where it absolutely deserves all the massive praise.’

Meanwhile The Los Angeles Times hailed the film as ‘exhilarating’ in another glowing review. 

‘Top Gun: Maverick is an out-of-bounds blast of afterburner fumes and thrillseeker highs that’s sure to please audiences looking for a classic summer blockbuster,’ Matt Donato said in a review for IGN. 

Reboot: The film features actress Jennifer Connolly as a new love interest for Maverick

Reboot: The film features actress Jennifer Connolly as a new love interest for Maverick 

Impressive: Critics were full of praise for star Cruise for doing his own stunts in the film

Impressive: Critics were full of praise for star Cruise for doing his own stunts in the film 

‘Director Joseph Kosinski doesn’t lose the ’80s nostalgia of movies that were light on reason and huge on chest-beating heroism.” 

However, there were some slightly less than stellar reviews with Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian giving the film three stars, and complained that there was no ‘towel-round-the-waist, semi-nude locker-room intensity between the guys.’  

Noting that Cruise’s original female co-star Kelly McGillis has not been invited back this time around, he called his new love interest Jennifer Connelly ‘a nice woman who runs the local bar, an entirely thankless part.’ 

Happy in the air: The star looks youthful as he rides his motorcycle with Jennifer Connelly and flies his plan upside down, proving time has not slowed down Cruise

Happy in the air: The star looks youthful as he rides his motorcycle with Jennifer Connelly and flies his plan upside down, proving time has not slowed down Cruise

The legend: Also in the action-packing trailer is a look at Top Gun vet Val Kilmer in a framed photo as Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky

The legend: Also in the action-packing trailer is a look at Top Gun vet Val Kilmer in a framed photo as Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky

It's like 1986 all over again! Cruise has not changed much since he first played Maverick decades ago

It’s like 1986 all over again! Cruise has not changed much since he first played Maverick decades ago

It's been a while: Hamm's character lets Maverick know he was not keen on having him return as his reputation is spotty

It’s been a while: Hamm’s character lets Maverick know he was not keen on having him return as his reputation is spotty

The new Goose: At a bar in walks Miles Teller as Goose's son - who goes by the name Rooster - who appears to be cocky and ready for adventure

The new Goose: At a bar in walks Miles Teller as Goose’s son – who goes by the name Rooster – who appears to be cocky and ready for adventure

Bradshaw appeared to be charmed overall though, writing: ‘Cruise’s movie-star chops are still miraculous though, and he has a genuinely touching dialogue scene with Kilmer. Now I want to see him take on a sequel to Risky Business and do the underpants dance again.’ 

The official synopsis for the movie reads: ‘After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (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 (Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.”

We remember Goose well: Older photos of Anthony Edwards as Goose, who died in a crash with Maverick, are seen

We remember Goose well: Older photos of Anthony Edwards as Goose, who died in a crash with Maverick, are seen 

Watch out: Taking to the skies for a 'two versus one' dogfight, his overconfident pupils are left stunned as he skillfully navigates his jet between between them, narrowly missing their wings

Watch out: Taking to the skies for a ‘two versus one’ dogfight, his overconfident pupils are left stunned as he skillfully navigates his jet between between them, narrowly missing their wings

That special one: With McGillis's Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood is curiously absent in 2019, her spot is capably filled by a new and notably younger love interest, played by Jennifer Connelly

That special one: With McGillis’s Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood is curiously absent in 2019, her spot is capably filled by a new and notably younger love interest, played by Jennifer Connelly

Drama: There's an angry scuffle among trainees as the trailer draws to a close

Drama: There’s an angry scuffle among trainees as the trailer draws to a close 

Scoring top points: Ross Bonaime wrote in his A grade review for Collider that the sequel 'improves upon the original in every conceivable way,' and that it 'is the rare case where it absolutely deserves all the massive praise'

Scoring top points: Ross Bonaime wrote in his A grade review for Collider that the sequel ‘improves upon the original in every conceivable way,’ and that it ‘is the rare case where it absolutely deserves all the massive praise’

‘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.’

The sequel is directed by Joseph Kosinski with a screenplay by Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie.

And is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison.

Also in the cast are Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Bashir Salahuddin, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis with Ed Harris.

Top Gun: Maverick is soaring into UK cinemas on May 25 and May 27 in the US. 

Top Gun’s victory roll as Tom Cruise roars back at 1,189mph… and he hasn’t changed a bit: PETER HOSKIN reviews famed movie pilot’s return in Top Gun: Maverick

Maverick ( PG, 135 mins)

Rating:

Verdict:  Supersonic!

We all know that Tom Cruise does his own stunts, but this is something else. There he is in an F-18 fighter jet, his billion-dollar face contorted by G-forces, as the whole thing roars off an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean.

The only small nod to sanity is that Cruise isn’t flying the jet himself: The US Navy wouldn’t let him.

Otherwise, everything else is real: The plane, the warship, the stomach-turning gravitational pulls. He’s actually up there in the sky going at 1,189mph as the camera rolls.

Cruise experiencing G-force in  F-18 fighter jet in Top Gun: Maverick

Cruise experiencing G-force in  F-18 fighter jet in Top Gun: Maverick

In Top Gun: Maverick, the new sequel to the 1986 original, this kind of macho film-making isn’t just showing off. It’s the point.

Nowadays, they could get computers to do all the work, but Cruise refuses to stand aside. So they just strap him in and watch him go.

In this respect, Cruise has much in common with his character, fighter pilot Pete Mitchell, who doesn’t appear to have changed much over the past 30-odd years. He’s still going by the call sign ‘Maverick’ – and acting the tough guy, too. 

After graduating from the Top Gun school all those years ago, he’s stuck to riding his motorcycle, playing shirtless beach sports and flying planes really, really fast. ‘You should be a two-star admiral by now,’ says Ed Harris, playing a military big brass in an early scene. But Maverick remains a five-star rule breaker.

Cruise and Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun: Maverick

Cruise and Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun: Maverick

However, if Maverick hasn’t changed, the world of war has changed around him. As Harris warns in his all-too-brief appearance, unmanned drones are on their way to replace pilots.

Meanwhile, the unnamed enemy – Russia? China? Who knows? – now has technologically superior aircraft. America, or perhaps the whole of humanity, seems to have its back against the wall.

Top Gun: Maverick may not do the most thorough job of exploring these unsettling developments. (Maverick’s response to a warning that the future is coming fast? ‘Not today.’)

But they do serve the useful purpose of distinguishing this sequel from the original with all its Reagan-era bravado. Admittedly, there is a lot here that is retread. Soon enough, Maverick is ordered back to train a new generation of hotshots in preparation for a strike on a nuclear facility.

Well, I say ‘new generation’ but, with the exception of a female pilot (Monica Barbaro), they’re pretty much like the old bunch.

There’s the arrogant one (Glen Powell), the nerdy one (Lewis Pullman) and even one (Miles Teller) who happens to be the son of Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw, Maverick’s best buddy, who died in the original.

The familiar dive bar returns, and this time it contains a new love interest in the form of Jennifer Connelly. Maverick’s adversary-turned-friend Iceman (Val Kilmer) also shows up in a scene which is touching given Kilmer’s real-life struggles with throat cancer.

if Maverick hasn’t changed, the world of war has changed around him has, writes PETER HOSKIN

if Maverick hasn’t changed, the world of war has changed around him has, writes PETER HOSKIN

All this is ambrosia for nostalgics, but whenever the film threatens to become too cosy, it shocks itself – and us – back into the present with another madly ambitious action sequence.

The final mission, with fighter jets buzzing around a snowscape, is an astonishing display of film-making bravado.

It’s loud, sometimes silly, often crazy. But in the end, the moral of the heart-stopping story is clear: Tom Cruise is a rootin’-tootin’ hero.

The question is: If they wait another 30 years to make Top Gun 3, will he actually look any older?

Top Gun: Maverick is released in cinemas here on May 27

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