Tom Cruise, the film-making businessman, plays to his strengths in what is a quasi-Mission Impossible saga. This critic has no idea who the enemy is that has some nuclear something somewhere that now-teacher Maverick (Tom Cruise) has to train his children to blast into oblivion. Vladimir Putin and Osama Bin Laden are not blamed for this, and it could be an alien entity taking over Iraq for all we know: the plot doesn’t depend on a known enemy…how strange is that?
The original Top Gun was much too cutesy for me to ever sit through, and to this day I haven’t seen it beyond maybe ten minutes. Unlike the Firm or A Few Good Men, which I watch repeatedly (great scripts, great direction) there’s always some misstep in Cruise’s acting that drives me bonkers, you know, the cringe factor. The good news? Maverick gets down to business so there are only a few blips of that (CF, cringe factor) in this, and that is probably due to Cruise’s maturity and how many films he’s actually appeared in…somewhere around 60 if you want to count all the credits on IMDB. Older and wiser, Tommy boy delivers a solid performance as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, indeed, Cruise’s aging works to his benefit.
Here’s the thing….what I took away from this film was how loud the fighter jets were and how old your great, great, great, great grandpa Ed Harris looks. If Harris’ appearance was a screentest for Grandpa Munster, he wins. Chilling in that it tells the older members of the audience (raising my hand now) how mortal we all are. Jon Hamm looks every bit his 51 years in 2022 (but the film was probably made as far back as 2019, so he’d be 48 during the moviemaking)…and Hamm used to be a head-turner.
Where the hoopla over the original May 1986 release put images in your head even if you didn’t see the original Top Gun, which I sub-title Risky Business Goes to the Sky, this thirty-six year later sequel works best when the gang is intent on finding a solution to the problem of that nuclear arena some unknown entity is developing. Do we really need to see Tom Cruise in a mindless love relationship? It’s so pathetic and a distraction from a film’s true elements which are drawing massive crowds to opening Memorial Day weekend: the fighter jets and the drama.
Now sixty-three-year-old Val Kilmer looks like halfway to Ed Harris, and the good-looking young student men learning from Maverick might as well be a bunch of Ken and Barbie dolls, their performances and their presence are nondescript, probably to keep Mr. Cruise front and center. Maverick takes his students to volleyball or something on the beach so they can get their shirts off, but Baywatch it is not. Tom Cruise, get a clue, after jumping on Oprah’s couch declaring your alleged love for one of your alleged wives, your romantic scenes in ALL your motion pictures have taken a hit. Shirt off in the water, the image you still project is that of a jumping jack on Oprah’s couch. Stick to the airplanes, please.
Seventy-two-year-old Ed Harris was so cool as Wayne Tarrance in The Firm a mere twenty-nine years ago, but as an old fossil in this, he’s there more for curiosity’s sake. The Mitch McDeere (Cruise) Wayne Torrance (Harris) mind-games were a key part of The Firm’s fun. At least they get to reunite here.
For all his work in film, Cruise is “only” worth about $600 million dollars…this critic thought it would be a billion by now! Get the guy a good accountant. But fear not, Maverick is already breaking records and will bring in a new haul for this quirky, head-scratching anomaly of a movie icon.
The end result is that Maverick is a lot of entertainment with director Joseph Kosinski delivering exactly what movie-goers want in 2022.
Found on the web: Tom Cruise is reportedly earning $13 million upfront for the new ‘Top Gun’ sequel, but he could get tens of millions of dollars more in box office bonuses for meeting certain milestones
Rear Admiral: The end is inevitable, Maverick. Your kind is headed for extinction.
Maverick: Maybe so, sir. But not today.
He got that right when it comes to the box office.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, legendary writer Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a twenty-seven-year-old variety show (established 1995) on cable TV featuring A-list celebrities from all walks of life.