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.'
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 complaining that there was no 'towel-round-the-waist, semi-n*de 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.
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.
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.