Top Gun Maverick opens in theaters nationwide from Friday, May 27, 2022 / Distributor: Towa Pictures / © 2022 Paramount Pictures Corporation. All rights reserved.
“Top Gun” was released in Japan in 1986. Its “sequel,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” opened on screens on May 27.
The sequel production was first reported around 2010, and filming took place in 2018. Since then, the film’s release has been delayed from 2019 to 2020 to 2021 to 2022 due to the production schedule delays and the new coronavirus. Some fans may have been waiting for almost 10 years since the first rumors of the film appeared, which is highly probable for some people.
The previous film was a social phenomenon in Japan, and this film also received a high score of 97% (as of May 19) from reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the largest movie review sites in the U.S. On May 23, lead actor Tom Cruise visited Japan for the first time in four years, raising expectations before the film’s release. The expectations of movie fans and industry people alike were also high.
Movie fans and people in the film industry must be feeling the excitement of a Hollywood blockbuster landing in Japan – that unique (nostalgic) atmosphere that has not been felt for a long time.
The movie “Top Gun Maverick” is so strong that “finally…” is too light a term to describe it, and it carries various “feelings”. It is a film that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of the real-time generation of the previous film, but it is not made solely out of nostalgia. It is a film that is more than enough entertainment for people in their thirties and younger, such as myself, to get a kick out of.
In this article, I would like to introduce the charms of “Top Gun Maverick” without giving away any core spoilers.
First, a synopsis of the film. It is neither a remake nor a reboot, but a “sequel” that takes place approximately 30 years after the first film.
＜Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is a legendary pilot who has a genius piloting sense and guts, but is treated as a nuisance by the US military because of his unconventional personality. One day, he receives an order to return to his “old stomping ground,” Top Gun, a training school for top U.S. Navy pilots. It is from his old friend “The Iceman” (Val Kilmer), who has risen to the rank of General in the Navy.
Maverick is responsible for training his “juniors” for an absolutely impossible mission. Among them is Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s partner “Goose” (Anthony Edwards), who was killed in an accident during training.＞The film is based on a true story of the lives of the characters and their relationship.
In this way, the story of “Top Gun Maverick” is tightly connected to the previous film. Although many elements can be enjoyed in this film on its own, we recommend that you watch the previous film as a review and preparation. The story is well understood, of course, but the character’s internal descriptions, the many detailed effects, and even the evolution of the visuals are all points that will impress you.
One example is the opening. The opening of “Top Gun Maverick” is the same as the previous film. The background of the establishment of Top Gun is described, fighter jets are shown taking off along with the work of the mechanics, and Kenny Loggins’ famous song “Danger Zone” is played. This series of scenes is designed to send the audience back to the world of “Top Gun” in one fell swoop. It is a privilege for those who have completed the previous film to be able to respond to this tasteful performance.
One of the main focuses of the story is the relationship between Maverick and Rooster. The drama is driven by the feud between the two, who both want an end to the conflict over Goose’s death. And it is necessary to keep in mind the “incident” that occurred in the previous film to understand the changes in their relationship.
At the beginning of the film, Maverick is conducting a test flight and tries to fly at Mach 10 to show the performance of his aircraft. In the cockpit alone, he mumbles, “Let’s do it, Goose”. It is a famous scene that shows that Maverick is still haunted by Goose’s death even after 30 years, and at the same time recognizes him as his “eternal partner”.
In “Top Gun Maverick,” the focus is also on Maverick’s inner conflicts, and his desire not to put the young Top Guns in danger and to bring them all back alive when he sends them on a mission brings him into conflict with his superiors. Maverick’s experience of losing Goose and his friends are also at the root of this conflict.
Maverick lives as a loner because of the fear of losing the people he loves. This background is all the more poignant because of the synchronization of real-time with the time the series has been running in.
Another element of this film is the “zeitgeist. Starting with the upper management’s attempt to allocate a budget for drone flights, Maverick is told that “there is no place for you in the future,” and his “students” make fun of him.
The film first depicts the current situation in which Maverick himself is treated as a “relic of a bygone era,” and then painfully breaks down these barriers one by one. In flight training, he shows his hardcore technique and wins over the trainees, and in missions, he dares to use the F-18, which is not the latest aircraft, to take on the 5th generation aircraft.
Top Gun Maverick” brilliantly intertwines the story’s theme with the impressive sky action and does not get bogged down in nostalgia by including “fighting together with the new generation” in the mix. Maverick not only shows his experience but also collaborates with the younger generation to bring about change on both sides.
Maverick himself, being haunted by the past trauma of Goose’s death, begins to look to the future as he clashes with the Roosters. The main feature of this film is that it is a team game, with each member having his or her own special place in the story.
In their mission, the impossible task of “plowing through a valley, destroying a weapon in a hollow with a double strike, and then soaring again,” incorporates the condition that “a single plane cannot complete the mission, and can only be completed by all of the crew working together”. Moreover, Maverick was not allowed to take on the mission but was instead an instructor. This reinforces the meaning of “trusting and entrusting the next generation”.
The time limit for this mission is also set, and the level of difficulty is indicated as being at the highest level. The careful diagramming makes it easy to understand even if you have no knowledge of fighter planes or military affairs. This is a “Mission: Impossible” flavor and the attention to entertainment for a wide range of audiences is astonishing (including the fact that no details of the enemy are given and no cruelty is depicted, the light-hearted gag scenes interspersed throughout, and the promised “Tom’s Run”.)
The actors underwent various types of training, including underwater training, and were also in charge of filming some of the flight scenes.
I saw the film in an IMAX screening and was engulfed by the realistic and immersive feeling of being on board a fighter plane. Moreover, the film is packed with different types of sky action, with training in the first half and actual combat in the second hal. And there are several stages in the mission part, including infiltration, combat, chases, and shootouts, so there is no monotony at all. The action and spectacle, which keeps on getting better and better, kept me excited.
The film is so convincing that you can’t even hear a sound as if you were being hit with nothing but the real thing. It has a sense of entertainment that is typical of Hollywood movies. “Top Gun Maverick” is a film that lives up to the phrase, “Don’t Think, Just Do.” It is a film that allows you to fully experience the real thrill of “experiencing a movie on the big screen”.
Top Gun Maverick
In theaters nationwide from May 27, 2022 (Friday)
© 2022 Paramount Pictures Corporation.
Distributor: Towa Pictures, Inc.
Film writer, born in Fukui Prefecture in 1987. Studied film and theater expression at Tokyo Gakugei University. After graduating from university, worked for a film magazine editorial production before becoming a film writer. He has written a wide range of articles, including interviews, reviews, news articles, columns, event reports, and recommendation comments.