A timeless Tom Cruise takes flight again: 'Top Gun: Maverick' review

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
A timeless Tom Cruise takes flight again: 'Top Gun: Maverick' review
Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick"
Paramount Pictures

MANILA, Philippines — "Don't think, just do."

Those words spoken in the sequel to the 1986 classic "Top Gun" pretty much defines the career trajectory of its star Tom Cruise, over thirty years after the initial testorone-filled movie that still has unmatched action pieces.

But "Top Gun: Maverick" doesn't just raise the level for military jets and dogfights onscreen, it zeroes in on the titular character and how he must come to terms with the position he has, been given, and potentially sacrifice his life for.

Ideally there is no specific need for a "Top Gun" sequel, with all its overt patriotism, which is why the sequel succeeds as it pours the weight on Tom's Maverick and how he must come to terms with the fact that his life as a Navy captain is limited — beneath him even, seniority considered — and that years of guilt has led to this pivotal point.

It must be said that with this outing, Tom Cruise has far and beyond surpassed the "action leading man role" from years past to the point of maintenance, something that most actors struggle to achieve.

Maybe it's his charm as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell or his enduring charm offscreen, whichever the answer it has contributed to his longevity as an actor, leading man, producer, and much more within the filmmaking process.

If the first "Top Gun" was full of manliness and unexpected sexual tension, "Top Gun: Maverick" juices up on adrenaline and kicks up to an unknown gear for its third act, bringing Miles Teller's Rooster — a perfect casting — into the bigger fold.

Also amped up in the sequel is the sound design and action pieces, utilizing actual F-18s to really give audiences a sense of the stakes whether in training or the actual mission.

Tom was expected to take a bulk of the screentime, but it was welcome to see how Rooster going beyond what was asked of him. Glen Powell was a very welcome addition for his Hangman, though the character he was trying to emulate — Val Kilmer's Iceman, who steals the film with his short appearance — is undeniably unmatched.

The production team can also take pride in the movie's editing, cinematography, and if true, minimal use of computer-generated imagery, as it added to such a fueled cinematic experience.

If this will be the last time we see of Maverick, then it would be an assignment well done, and a huge chunk of it is because of Tom Cruise's longevity.

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