Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation
Today’s Prayer Focus
MOVIE REVIEW

Top Gun: Maverick

also known as “Top Gun 2,” “Asas Maverikas,” “Phi Công Siêu Đẳng Maverick,” “Top Gun: MaveriksТоп Ган: Мэверик,” “Топ гън: Маверик,” “トップガン マーヴェリック,” “탑건: 매버릭,” “捍衛戰士:獨行俠”
MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for sequences of intense action, and some strong language.

Reviewed by: Keith Rowe
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Young-Adults • Adults
Genre:
Action Drama Sequel IMAX
Length:
2 hr. 11 min.
Year of Release:
2022
USA Release:
May 27, 2022 (wide release)
DVD: November 1, 2022
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporationclick photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation
Relevant Issues

Preemptive strike on enemy nation

Hostile nation that is enriching uranium with the intent to use it against the United States

Fighter jets / warplanes

Naval aviation

Aircraft carriers

Pilots / aviators

Dodging an advancement in rank to continue flying

Appreciating the talents and experience of older people

Courage, bravery, self-sacrifice

Risking one’s life for the safety of other’s and/or one’s nation

Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation Copyright, Paramount Pictures Corporation
Featuring Tom CruiseCaptain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
Jennifer ConnellyPenelope “Penny” Benjamin
Miles TellerLieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw
Monica BarbaroLieutenant Natasha “Phoenix” Trace
Lewis PullmanLieutenant Robert “Bob” Floyd
Val KilmerFour-star Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, a fellow instructor and friend/former rival of Maverick, and the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet
Glen PowellLieutenant Jake “Hangman” Seresin
Jon HammVice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson
Ed HarrisRear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain
Jean Louisa KellySarah Kazansky
Jake PickingLieutenant Brigham “Harvard” Lennox
Manny JacintoFritz
Raymond LeeLieutenant Logan “Yale” Lee
Charles ParnellRear Admiral Solomon “Warlock” Bates
See all »
Director Joseph Kosinski—“TRON: Legacy” (2010), “Oblivion” (2013), “Only the Brave” (2017)
Producer Skydance Media
Paramount Pictures
Jerry Bruckheimer
See all »
Distributor Distributor: Paramount Pictures Corporation. Trademark logo.Paramount Pictures Corporation

For anyone who’s seen “Top Gun” (1986), this film’s opening sequence will be an exhilarating blast from the past.

We witness jets landing on an aircraft carrier, tailhooks snagging arresting wires to bring the planes to a screeching halt. Then we see airplanes launching from the carrier; pilots are given the go-ahead hand signal by members of a highly-skilled group of technicians who serve as a jet pit crew. A triumphant fist pump accompanies each successful takeoff.

Then we hear the haunting strains of an electric guitar, which propels the regal power ballad “Top Gun Anthem” from the OG movie. Cue the goose bumps. The nostalgic opener culminates with a short sampling of Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” a song synonymous with the 80s movie.

The story begins with Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) working on a P-51 Mustang in a hangar in Mojave, CA. Living up to his name, Maverick has nearly been discharged from the Navy several times for insubordination, but he receives orders from his friend, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), to return to the Top Gun flight school in San Diego, CA. In a top secret meeting with Admiral Simpson (Jon Hamm) and Admiral Bates (Charles Parnell), Maverick is informed that he’s been tasked with leading a mission into enemy territory to blow up an underground uranium enrichment facility.

Surprise #1: Maverick learns that his role on the mission is to teach it, not fly it.

Maverick is introduced to the elite pilots he’ll be training.

Surprise #2: One of the young men is Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of Maverick’s wingman Goose (Anthony Edwards), who died in a training accident in the first film.

As Maverick puts the pilots through grueling training, with occasional breaks for teambuilding fun, Navy Intelligence learns some distressing news…

Surprise #3: The enemy facility will be operational sooner than anticipated and the mission has been moved up—ready or not; the pilots will be wheels up in seven days.

So, will Maverick’s young pilots have the right stuff to complete an impossible mission (Cruise’s other alter ego, Ethan Hunt, could do it without breaking a sweat), or will they crash into a mountain or be shot down by sleek fifth-generation fighters? Buckle up! There are plenty more surprises on this wild ride.

A number of elements made the original film a crowd-pleasing classic. A callow, cocky Cruise was certainly a box office draw for many. The realistic dogfights between U.S. F-14 Tomcats and Russian MiGs created an immersive experience that appealed to the arcade/Atari crowd. The ubiquitous soundtrack generated excitement for the movie all summer long, and even people who hadn’t seen the movie (like me… I wasn’t allowed to see it) could identify the film by its chart-topping hits.

“Top Gun: Maverick” has plenty of things going for it as well. For starters, its storyline is a bit more complicated than the straight shot plot in the original film. A more seasoned Maverick struggles to find his place in the new Navy; hotshot young pilots and modern fighter planes threaten his obsolescence.

Rooster’s inclusion in the team of fighter pilots forces Maverick to confront the lingering ghost of Goose’s tragic death. The young pilot bears a grudge against Maverick for delaying his entry into the Naval Academy; unbeknownst to Rooster, it was his mother’s dying wish. The movie gets ample dramatic mileage from this estranged relationship.

And speaking of relationships, Maverick is reunited with long-lost love, Penny (Jennifer Connelly). Though underdeveloped, their relationship is sweet without being saccharine. Also, Cruise and Connelly have far better screen chemistry than the dubious pairing of Cruise and Kelly McGillis in the original film.

The movie’s attractive young actors deliver fine performances. Of note are annoyingly overconfident Hangman (Glen Powell), quietly confident Phoenix (Monica Barbaro), and silent techie Bob (Lewis Pullman). And what highflying film would be complete without Ed Harris? He plays Admiral Cain in a scanty, yet significant role.

Aside from its star-studded cast, the movie’s success rides on its aerial combat sequences. The visuals in “Maverick” far surpass those in the original film, and some of the aerobatic stunts literally take your breath away (with apologies to Berlin). But in the age of CGI, how real are the dogfights?

Much like Maverick, Cruise is well-known for pushing the limits. From the outset, Cruise insisted that the sequel should contain no green screen or CGI shots. It would be easy to cheat on the close-up cockpit shots, but even those were captured in-flight during real aerial filming sessions.

In addition to enduring a three month boot camp designed by Cruise, the young performers involved in flight scenes had to undergo g-force training to prepare them for the incredible pressures they’d experience when filming aloft. Added pressure was placed on the actors when, out of necessity, they became active participants in the filmmaking process.

According to producer Jerry Bruckheimer, “The actors also had to learn how to run the cameras because when they’re up in the jet they have to direct themselves essentially. They also needed to be taught about the lighting, cinematography and editing, as it is the once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Now that’s how you take amateur filmmaking to new heights.

Not every aspect of the film soars, though. Many could justifiably argue that the opener is a rip-off of the original and that the entire movie is a redux of “Top Gun.”

As with the first film, character development in “Maverick” is fairly shallow; other than Maverick, Rooster and Penny, most of the characters are cardboard cutouts with call signs. Also, with very few exceptions, the plot is patently predictable.

There are plenty of worn-out tropes here too, like when the motorcycle-riding Maverick races alongside a jet hurdling down a runway; a callback to a similar scene in the original movie. Another allusion is when Rooster sits down at a piano and bangs out Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire,” something his father had done, with him sitting on top of the piano, in the first movie.

Then there’s the slogan-happy dialog, i.e. The oft-quoted, “It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot.” Or the Yoda-esque, “Don’t think, just do.” But when it comes to the film’s lines, there’s a far more concerning element than stilted dialog…

Objectionable Material

OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE/VULGarities: There are almost as many expletives uttered in “Maverick” as there are bullets fired or missiles launched. The film features a cornucopia of curse words, including: f-word (1), “d*mn” (2), “d*mm-it” (9), “sh*t” (22), “cr*p” (1), “p*ss” (2), “d*ck” (2), “Balls”, “h*ll” (7), “a**” (3), and “son of a b*tch” (2). The movie also has a few instances of irreverent speech: “J*sus” (2), “My God!” (1), “g*d d*m” (1), and “Holy sh*t.”

ALCOHOL/DRUGs: Several scenes take place in a bar. The first sequence shows the most alcohol, as the facility is swarming with beer-toting patrons.

Maverick violates one of the house rules and is made to buy a round of drinks for everyone in the bar. A young man orders four more beers, for himself and his friends.

Later in the movie, when Maverick is at a low point, he drinks a beer at the bar.

NUDITY AND SEXUAL CONTENT: The movie has no nudity, but there’s an implied sex scene and some general innuendo surrounding Maverick and Penny’s relationship. In one suggestive moment, Maverick asks Penny when she gets off work.

Later, when Maverick drops off Penny at her house, she leaves the door open and walks inside—an invitation for him to join her. This leads to some kissing and a scene where Maverick is on top of Penny (they’re fully clothed at this point).

The movie cuts to a post-coital conversation in Penny’s bed. Maverick has his shirt off and Penny is fully covered. Penny’s teenage daughter comes home early from a friend’s house and Maverick hurriedly puts on his clothes and jumps out of Penny’s bedroom window. Before he can make good on his escape, Penny’s daughter catches him, forcing an awkward exchange between the two.

In a beach football sequence, all the men have their shirts off, and the women wear sports bras. Again, no graphic nudity here, but a lot of skin.

VIOLENCE AND GRAPHIC CONTENT: The movie doesn’t contain any graphic violence. The only physical violence occurs when Maverick is tossed out of the bar and during a short dustup between Rooster and Hangman.

The rest of the violence involves planes exploding, but there’s no blood or gore in these scenes. Though the body count isn’t very high in the movie, several enemy planes are shot down. A couple characters have tussled hair and minor scratches after making a successful parachute landing.

Spiritual Aspects

In a movie dominated by action sequences, character development moments are few and far between. The movie’s overall theme is Old vs. New. In the words of Admiral Cain, pilots like Maverick are “headed for extinction.” Maverick is frequently referred to as “old man.” One of the younger officers calls F-14s “old relics.” The inference is that Maverick resembles the planes he used to fly.

One of the movie’s strangest story points is that the enemy remains unidentified. Apparently in today’s political climate, Iran, Russia and China are off-limits when selecting bad guys for a story. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised since this movie was co-funded by Tencent, a Chinese company.

Regardless of who the unnamed enemies are, the Bible instructs us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). But does that maxim apply in combat situations? When it’s kill or be killed, does a pilot have the right of self-defense? Too heady a question for an action movie, I suppose.

Rooster’s animosity toward Maverick is a subplot that runs throughout the movie. The Bible instructs us not to let the sun go down on our anger (Ephesians 4:26) and that if we have a grievance against someone else, we should go to the other person and make things right with them (Matthew 5:23-24). Sadly, such divine insights never occur to these egotistical pilots.

The two men eventually gain a mutual respect for each other and are willing to sacrifice their life for the other. This honorable impulse was exemplified by Christ, who died on a Roman cross for the sins of humanity. In John 15:13, the Bible says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

There’s a touching scene in the middle of the story; one of the only moments where the film slows down long enough to allow a meaningful conversation to take place. Iceman (Val Kilmer) invites Maverick to visit his home. Maverick is greeted at the door by Iceman’s wife who says, “It’s come back.” When Maverick enters Iceman’s home office, his rival-turned-friend is having a coughing fit. Iceman can’t speak; he must express his thoughts with the assistance of a computer.

Iceman inquires about Rooster. When Maverick admits he’s at wits’ end with how to deal with the young man, Iceman types, “It’s time to let go.”

This sage and selfless advice, coming from a man battling a terminal illness is the heart of the film. The fact that in real life Kilmer has throat cancer lends the scene added poignancy. It’s a stark reminder of the brevity of life. It’s also an admonition to make the most of every moment and to live lives worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1), because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow (James 4:13-17).

Final Thoughts

“Top Gun: Maverick” is a dazzling roller coaster of a movie. It’s a worthy successor to the original film and has pushed the technology and aerial acrobatics to the next level. The gravity-defying, death-daring stunts will make this a crowd-pleasing, summer popcorn flick.

It’s regrettable that the pervasive swearing detracts from what otherwise is a pretty clean film. However, despite its heavy dose of foul language, the movie is an entertaining thrill ride that should appeal to a wide adult audience, especially those with a need for speed.

The final scene shows Maverick and Penny flying off into the sunset. Is this symbolic? Will this be the end of Maverick’s story, or will he be back in a sequel?

“Top Gun: Rooster”?

  • Profane language: Heavy
  • Violence: Moderate
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Moderate
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate
  • Sex: Mild
  • Nudity: None
  • Occult: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—For quite a number of years now, I have walked out of movie theaters because either the movie was too violent or too boring or too stupid. I started seeing new movies on DVD so I would not waste my money on the theater. But I saw Top Gun Maverick today and loved it. My friend Martha’s little boys were in the first movie, playing Goose’s little boy. The new movie has a photo of Martha’s son on a bulletin board at the start of the movie and a scene from the first movie is replayed where Goose’s and Meg Ryan’s son sits on a piano.

This sequel is perhaps the best sequel to a popular movie I have ever seen. The screenplay ties in beautifully with the first Top Gun; the story unfolds intelligently. The casting is perfect, with Jennifer Connelly playing Maverick’s love interest and she is as good in the role as Kelly McGillis was. Jon Hamm plays Maverick’s superior officer perfectly. The soundtrack is woven into the story line appropriately. Val Kilmer is back as Iceman and his real life throat cancer is part of the story. Miles Teller’s performance as Goose’s son Rooster is impeccable and his scenes are brilliant. The story is gripping and held me to the end, with aviation scenes that are spectacular, unfolding from the bowels of aviation reality. This is an old fashioned movie that entertains thoroughly and makes you feel good at the end. I walked out feeling that, for two plus hours, I escaped from the tragedies of today’s world, which is what a good movie strives to do. Tom Cruise, bless his heart. Gave us a good Hollywood film, with charm.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Halyna Barannik, age 76 (USA)
Positive—I know part two’s rarely exceed the first movie, but I believe this one does. You do not have to have watched the first movie to “get” the second. The storyline was great and the flying just blows you away. There are references to the past movie but not many. Seeing Val Kilmer in this one was so good. There is one “F” word near the end of the movie and most of the other curse words in this movie are contented in that minute or two. I was very surprised and pleased. It is possible there were more words than I remember but being focused on the action I may have missed them. The movie deals with forgiveness, sacrificing yourself for another, and sacrificing for duty etc., There were no sex scenes like the first movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Miranda, age 47 (USA)
Positive—Danger Zone Intensifies

The original Top Gun set the benchmark to which all other flight action movies are judged. With stunning aerial footage that masterfully captured the speed, power, and noise of the mighty F-14 Tomcat. But nostalgia, no matter how deep can’t stop Top Gun Maverick (TGM) from blasting the original movie into great balls of fire. Rewatching the original Top Gun just before seeing TGM makes the original look like a lame B movie by comparison.

But it’s not just the fast jets that look beautiful, TGM is a masterclass on how to properly do a sequel/remake. It refuses to apologize for anything that happened in the last film while improving on absolutely everything. The music is a tasteful mix of retro and contemporary. The cast of characters are a joy to watch. The jokes are cheesy, the one-liners, hilarious. The story, although not groundbreaking, is handled well enough since the last movie didn’t leave much room for a sequel. And if there are any possible shortcomings in the film (like a Navy captain owning a P-51 Mustang) they are filtered out with Tom Cruise’s remarkable charisma and acting skill.See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Rob M, age 29 (USA)
Positive—Top Gun was definitely action packed. I did not see the original movie, but I plan to at some point. The movie did reference stuff from the original, so I felt like I missed some of the plot. Not seeing the original was not that big of a deal though since it was an action movie. The sound effects and photography were great and the movie was terrific on the big screen.

It was weird that they never mentioned who the enemy was that they were attacking in the movie. I thought that I had missed it somehow and then I read the review after seeing the movie and saw that the enemy was not mentioned. Since the enemy was not mentioned, it is not clear if this attack was during a war or not during a war. If the attack was not during a war, there was no mention of opposing political views on the issue or whether the attack is right or wrong. I feel there should be some political background to give the movie some context.See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Rose, age 43 (USA)
Positive—I usually do not enjoy sequels as much as the original… especially ones with so much time between them… but this movie is BETTER than the original! It was predictable because so much was patterned after the first movie, but it was cleaner than the first, and the storyline tied up so many loose ends from the first. There is one implied sex scene, and there is some profanity, but over all, it was a wonderful movie, and I would watch it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Chrystal, age 45 (USA)
Positive—The first time I have been looking forward to seeing a movie in a long time. No “wokeness” in this film. Just a straight forward drama and action film. The script is very well written with dramatic scenes and a great storyline. Movie would have been better if they had not used a bar as one of the focal points. Tom Cruise knows what he is doing with these movies. Better than the “Mission Impossible” franchise since this movie has actual drama with it and the acting is good. This is an “old fashioned” good movie that respects our military and our country. Great movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Wayne, age 67 (USA)
Negative
Negative—This movie had a lot of action and an intensity of plot line that kept you on the edge of your seat, however this movie had quite a bit of language, drinking, and a scene that showed two main characters in bed together, while showing that they were sneaking around behind the back of the teenage daughter. So as far as a Christian watching this movie, the morality aspect was void. The reason we continue to have fatherless families is because we celebrate and normalize relationships that are sexual in nature without the commitment of marriage. If these elements were not present in the film, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it, however I left feeling convicted for paying to see this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Brandi, age 41 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.