Top Gun is a movie that defined an era, and for many, a movie that was a part of their youth. For me, it was a movie that couldn’t help but falling in love with. 36 years since its initial release, Top Gun once again takes to the skies with a sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, much to the joyful cheers of fans of the first movie, while introducing itself to a new generation. Having watched the movie, it’s clear that even after all these years, the same charm that made everyone fall in love with Top Gun hasn’t died, giving reason to celebrate, but also bringing a hint of sadness as well.

Ceylon Today had the opportunity to experience Maverick for ourselves at Scope Cinemas. Turns out, the return of a movie loved by an entire generation wasn’t good news enough, with Scope announcing its plans to bring IMAX to Sri Lanka, coming soon to Havelock city. Fingers crossed Sri Lanka has the opportunity to enjoy the new Avatar movie that has been announced with the full IMAX experience.

Back to Top Gun: Maverick, a movie that has been in development for years, the movie opened up with a massive throwback to the first movie, inviting a wave of nostalgia and setting the tone for the entire movie. It was almost as if Maverick was telling us that ‘we know you love this movie, here’s some more of it.’

This iteration of Top Gun follows Tom Cruise reprising his much loved character Maverick. Although a few decades older, Maverick doesn’t seem to have changed a bit. Still pushing his limits, still defying orders and still crazy about planes. But now, he returns to Top Gun as an instructor, training a new generation of pilots for a mission that in real life, would be more than enough to spark another armed conflict between nations. But let’s not think about that.

All we need to know is that the pilots are training for a special operation against “the enemy,” and takes extra caution to avoid pointing fingers at anybody. What the movie wants us to focus on instead is how cool the pilots are and seeing “planes go whoosh,” as aptly coined by IGN reviewer Matt Donato.

In the first movie, we saw Maverick piloting the F-14 Tomcat, a plane that returns to the screen for ‘old times’ sake’ at one part of the movie. The new generation of pilots are seen flying Boeing F/A 18F Super Hornets for the most part instead, with Russian made Sukhoi SU-57s comprising “the enemy.” Of course, the Russians aren’t the only ones using this particular aircraft, but we’re not supposed to think about that either.

True to Tom Cruise’s and the Top Gun brand, a major portion of the new movie are also real, working in collaboration with the United States Military and their fighter pilots. Actors found themselves having to learn how to operate cameras as they found themselves strapped to the Super Hornets with the pilots, as they performed the manoeuvres we see on-screen, experiencing
G forces that required them to undergo major physical conditioning before filming to prepare. Acting and pulling off a convincing performance under such conditions would not have been an easy task.

Neither was the job of the actual pilots, who performed some of the most amazing aerial acrobatics and stunts I have ever seen on film. The editing was precise and portrayed the sense of speed, and borderline panic that someone would probably experience under the circumstances faced by the pilots without losing cohesion, keeping audiences fully immersed.

Of course, the movie manages to carry itself well outside of the cockpit too, with Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise, but still bringing his ‘A game’ to the table, pulling off a believable, and touching performance. So does the rest of the crew, with Miles Teller and Glenn Powell both bringing plenty of charisma into their roles.

Although a movie about hotshot pilots, Top Gun: Maverick at the core of it all revolves around a bit of drama between Miles Teller’s character ‘Rooster’, and Pete ‘Maverick’ played by Cruise, with the two having to grip with the loss of ‘Goose’ Bradshaw, Maverick’s Radar Intercept Officer from the previous movie. Top Gun: Maverick sticks to its roots of being a ‘coming of age’ story, this time, with Rooster taking centre stage. It passes the torch to a new generation, and brings to an end to the story of that hot-blooded pilot that charmed everyone the first time we saw him in 1986.

Without a doubt, Top Gun: Maverick is a beautiful movie, telling a story that is predictable, but you can’t help falling in love with for that very reason. It’s a movie that knows what it is and isn’t afraid to embrace its true nature. Sadly, Tony Scott, the director of the first Top Gun passed away long before this movie came to theatres, but director Jospeh Kosinski has managed to capture everything that made the first movie great, to create and beautiful and fitting sequel as well as ending to the story of Maverick. Not bad from the director of Tron: Legacy.

Top Gun: Maverick truly is a love letter to aviation, the joy and freedom of flying.You would be doing yourself a disservice if you miss out on experiencing this movie at the movie theatre, it is a visual spectacle and an experience in itself. It is a move that all aviation enthusiasts shouldn’t miss out on.

Much like the first, Top Gun: Maverick is undoubtedly going to capture the hearts of an entirely new generation that might not have even seen the first Top Gun. It’s a bridge between generations, and a worthy sequel to one of the most important movies of the 1980s.

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage