Top Gun: Maverick, the long-awaited sequel to Top Gun (1986), has finally made its way to cinemas, twelve years after the sequel was first announced. The action-adventure dramabrings back Tom Cruise, as he reprises his role as Captain Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, in a story that takes him back to where his career began.

The film also brings backVal Kilmer, as he reprises his role as Admiral Tom ‘Iceman,’ in a short but prominent role, which is sure to make its mark as one of the many memorable moments in the film. Top Gun: Maverick also stars Jennifer Connelly as Penelope ‘Penny’ Benjamin, Jon Hamm as Vice Admiral Beau ‘Cyclone’ Simpson, Lewis Pullman as Lieutenant Robert ‘Bob’ Floyd, Miles Teller as Lieutenant Bradley ‘Rooster,’ Glen Powell as Lieutenant Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin, and Monica Barbaro as Lieutenant Natasha ‘Phoenix.’

Set 36 years after the events of the original film, the story follows Maverick, as he serves in the best of his ability, by constantly pushing the limits of the Navy’s aviation development programme, with his skill and courage, as the Navy’s test pilot, but through the years he had managed to avoid getting promotions, given that an advancement in rank could mean that he could risk being grounded. Things suddenly take a turn, leading him to a crossroads in his career, with him being requested to go to the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructors program (known as Top Gun).

This is where the core storyline unfolds, with Maverick being given the task of training a young detachment of graduates, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, but they allneed to be ready for a special assignment that requires them to be just as courageous and as skilled as Maverick, not just to succeed in completing the mission but to survive.

Maverick’s return to Top Gun, is the highlight of the film, as he demonstrates to the graduates how they need to be working harder as a team, to be better, than the best, at all times. Top Gun: Maverick feels like it sets a new benchmark inthe genre, with incredible aerial stunts and visuals, which would have fans of the film wanting to watch the film over and over again.

The story also has several challenges that Maverick is faced with, as he struggles with the death of his best friend Goose, with flashbacks of what happened in the past, as he tries to cope with his fears, while embarking on a mission that demands more from everyone. His effort to confronthis fears, to be able to train the fresh group of fighter pilots, adds depth and emotional weight to the overall story.

In 2010 it was announced that a sequel to Top Gun was in development, with Paramount Pictures approaching Jerry Bruckheimer to be the producer, with Tony Scott as the director. Tragically in mid-2012, Scott died by suicide, resulting in the film’s pre-production being temporarily put on hold. Years later in 2017, Kosinski came on board, and the film was in development in 2018 and 2019, with release dates set for July 2019, but was later postponed a few times due to several reasons.

The film based on the characters by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr.with the story by Justin Marks and Peter Craig, issure to leave fans satisfied with a heavy dose of nostalgia from the past, especially after the long wait. This is a story that demands that fans re-watch the original, ahead of the new release, to truly capture the depth of emotions that it delivers.

The 131-minute film by directorJoseph Kosinski, was made together with producers Christopher McQuarrie, Jerry Bruckheimer, David Ellison, and the star himself Tom Cruise, working in collaboration with production companies Jerry Bruckheimer Films (JBF) and Skydance Media, with a budget of US$170 million. The movie proved to be a financial success, raking in over 116.5 million at the Worldwide box office, ahead of its opening weekend.

The film has received impressive ratings, with 97 per cent featured on Rotten Tomatoes, 78 per cent on Metacritic and 8.7/10 on IMDb, supported by positive reviews, with many praising the film’s overall direction, attention to detail, visual style, emotional weight, and most importantly the performance by its lead cast and action sequence.

Top Gun: Maverick was clearly well worth the wait, as it easily surpasses viewer expectations with its aerial action, backed by a plot thatmakes it a worthy sequel, while Tom Cruise continues to prove himself to be one of the best celebrity actors that Hollywood has to offer.

By Nirupa Mohan Dore