Features and Columns · Movies

Why the Stunts in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Feel So Dang Real

Hint: it’s because they’re real.
Top Gun Maverick
Paramount Pictures
By  · Published on October 12th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay examining the in-camera stunts in Top Gun: Maverick.


Why does Top Gun: Maverick feel so real? Short answer: because, for the most part, it is.

A (frankly) insane level of commitment to practical stuntwork on a Tom Cruise project comes as no surprise. The actor has distinguished himself as a champion of doing things in-camera, a feat he’s been able to accomplish by intentionally ingratiating himself among the producer class. The man has made a point of crafting his career around increasing his creative control and ability to ensure that the powers that be can’t tell him he can’t climb the Burj Khalifa or do a HALO jump.

So while it’s not exactly surprising that Top Gun: Maverick employs a significant degree of in-camera stuntwork, that doesn’t diminish how darn impressive it is. The following video essay specifies some of the technicalities of how cinematographer David Nowell and company approached the logistics of filming the sequel’s aerial scenes. The details are delicious: from the Tom Cruise-crafted BootCamp, the other actors had to endure to make the in-air shots possible to the modified sniper sights (!) that were refitted into photography equipment. If you’ve ever been curious about how filmmakers use helicopters and planes to shoot, this essay will prove informative (did you know there are whole-ass planes dedicated to filmmaking? I didn’t!).

Watch “Why Top Gun: Maverick Action Scenes Feel Unbelievably Real”:


Who made this?

This video essay on the in-camera stunts in Top Gun: Maverick is by In Depth Cine, a YouTube account dedicated to providing its audience with practical rundowns and explainers on some of the more technical aspects of movie-making. Gray Kotzé, a documentary DP based in South Africa, is the man behind the channel. You can check out Kotzé’s portfolio on their website here. And you can check out In Depth Cine on YouTube here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).