It is a rare sequel indeed that can live up to the standards of the original, while bringing the story full circle.

It would be fair to say that I have arrived to the party a little late when it comes to watching this thrilling and action packed sequel to the original 1980’s film which thrilled and captivated so many cinema audiences. But of course it is a huge risk to return to create a sequel – particularly when so much has passed since the original. However, with regards to Top Gun the wait has been more than worth it.

While the film is filled with all the drama and danger that you would expect (the flight scenes are as expected fully spectacular – in particular the finale when you aren’t quite sure what is going to happen), there is also a stronger emotional core as Maverick struggles to deal with his past while attempting to teach a new bunch of recruits on how to prepare for a particularly dangerous mission. One of these new recruits just happens to be Maverick’s best friend Goose’s son Rooster who has his own reasons for resenting Maverick and this adds an interesting dimension to Maverick’s character – who seems a bit more brooding and less assertive than in the original. It is an interesting character development for a character who is so strongly known for his swagger but it really works.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, Top Gun: Maverick is a film that leaves you breathless and keeps you guessing right up to the very last minute – but still filled with plenty of nostalgic moments that will delight fans of the original. From the use of the original theme, very similar opening credits and of course with Maverick spending a lot of time reflecting on Goose – references to him singing ‘Great Balls of Fire’ as seen through his son adds a nice poignancy and feel that the story has come full circle. Yes, it feels as though there is less swagger about it (and the film could have made more of Jennifer Connelly and Monica Barbaro’s characters somewhat) making it feel surprisingly more brooding than expecting – but it does still come across as compelling to watch.

It is a film that brings all the different elements of the story together in a nice (if on occasion a slightly predictable way) and allows the audience to be swept away by the sheer spectacle of it all. From seeing the recruits learning how to work together, seeing Maverick trying to reconcile with Rooster and of course a slightly flimsy love side plot – it has the feel of the original but seen through a different light. In a sense it comes across as though Kosinski is paying tribute to Top Gun’s original director Tony Scott and it pays off.

The cast have plenty to offer: Tom Cruise is still as reckless as ever as Maverick but the swagger of his character is slightly subdued this time allowing an extra dynamic to the character to develop, Miles Teller is fabulous as Rooster capturing the character’s pain and frustration perfectly and even Val Kilmer makes a touching appearance as Iceman in one lovely written scene.

Filled with thrills and drama, Top Gun: Maverick is certainly a rollercoaster of a ride that works just as well as a standalone as well as a sequel.

By Emma Clarendon

Top Gun: Maverick is available to buy and download now.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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