Here at Film School Rejects, we are big fans of Tony Scott’s Top Gun, but the idea of a sequel that doesn’t feature the late director’s involvement is a strange notion. The first movie is arguably his most definitive work, and it doesn’t need a followup. However, in the world of Hollywood, where nostalgia and money talk, it was always going to happen.
That said, Top Gun: Maverick doesn’t look like a shameless cash-grab either. It’s clear from the trailer that the Joseph Kosinski-helmed sequel understands what makes the first film so enduring, and while there is some retreading of familiar ideas on display here, the sequel still looks impressive in its own right.
The new movie will follow Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) in the present day and introduce viewers to a host of new characters, but the spirit of Scott’s popcorn masterpiece possesses every frame, and it looks pretty great. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for takeoff.
If you’re going to make a sequel to Top Gun in 2020, it must contain one thing above everything else: realistic aerial action. The dogfight scenes in the original movie are exquisite, but since its release in 1986, Cruise has become one of the world’s top action stars. These days, his movies come with the expectation of awe-inspiring sequences. Cruise probably isn’t flying this jet, but it’s clear that the movie will appeal to fans of his high octane sensibilities.
The sight of Maverick riding his motorcycle is a familiar and comforting sight. More than 30 years have passed since we last spent time with the character, but it’s great to see that he hasn’t changed. The nostalgia is heavy here, but now that Cruise is enjoying his daredevil years, perhaps we’ll see him pull off some death-defying stunt on the road as well.
The new movie will see Maverick mentor a new generation of pilots, one of whom is Lieutenant Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his deceased friend “Goose.” In this scene, an unidentified voice says that Maverick is the best coach in the business and his teachings will be the difference between life and death. That said, judging by the expression on Bradshaw’s face, he doesn’t quite buy that assessment of the veteran.
This moment is reminiscent of the “hit the breaks” scene from the original movie. Maverick still has a knack for evading those who pursue him by coming up with some inventive trickery on the spot. In this scene, the pilot hits the breaks and rises above his opponent’s jet, allowing him to command the situation and become the hunter.
In another scene that’s reminiscent of the first movie, the new recruits hang out at a bar, drink some beers, and sing some songs. Fans of the original will remember the “Great Balls of Fire” performance by Maverick and Goose, which is a charming moment of brevity between the action scenes that showcased their friendship at its most joyous. Hopefully, none of these characters die later after this scene, but….
Someone from this crew is destined for the grave in this movie. I don’t know whose funeral this is, but I expect the moments of beautiful aerial action and drunken singing to be balanced out by moments of weepy sadness. The jets flying overhead also make this scene look very cool, but it’s a reminder that there will always be casualties during war.
In another callback to the 1986 movie, Maverick is seen on the beach tossing a football into the air. While the preceding film saw him play volleyball by the ocean, this scene is very reminiscent of what came before. Once again, the trailer confirms that his habits haven’t really changed; he’s merely aged gracefully.
Toward the end of the trailer, we see another throwback to the original, and it’s a moment that suggests the sequel will also feature some romance. Here, Maverick rides his motorcycle as Jennifer Connelly’s unnamed character tags along for a ride. Charlie Blackwood (played by Kelly McGillis in Scott’s film) is no longer the pilot’s love interest, but this is yet another scene that confirms the sequel is adhering to familiar beats.
Top Gun: Maverick flies into theaters on June 26, 2020.