Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick ★★★★

I usually find it trite and reductive to say something "needs" to be seen in a theater, but…holy shit, is this a movie built for the theater. I think my intestines were in my throat for at least a solid hour of this, and I wasn't even in an IMAX screening! Kosinski delivers his most refined work yet, striking a perfect balance between the screenplay's characterizations and rising tensions and leads to a visceral sucker punch of a finale that had me practically bouncing out of my seat. It's the most fun experience I've had in a packed theater in quite some time, and I spent the whole drive home coming down off the high those dogfighting sequences left me in.

Granted, the script plays it a little too safe and formulaic, so as wowed as I am by the film's technical and cinematic feats, the narrative feels a little lacking in comparison. It packs some really solid thematic nuances into the familiar beats, though, and deserves credit for finding subtle ways to point out the problematic elements of the American military complex, even if it, understandably, can't interrogate it very much. Maverick has a great arc, too, and scratches the surface of some meaty interiority. Cruise makes it look effortless and even brings some surprising softness and rawness that carries that interiority way farther than it would've gone otherwise.

I genuinely can't wait to watch this again. I say that about plenty of movies, but I mean it this time—I booked tickets to another showing as soon as I got home. It's an excellent example of how to do a "legacyquel" and deserves to be included alongside stuff like The Last Jedi, Creed, and Fury Road. It might not quite reach the heights of those movies, but damn, Top Gun: Maverick is still a ridiculously satisfying, impressive, and heart-stopping blockbuster. My Sunday IMAX showing can't come soon enough.

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