Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick

WARNING: Spoilers ahead! I strongly recommend watching one or both of the Top Gun movies before reading.

Tom Cruise. Miles Teller. Glen Powell. Those are three of the actors who star in the hit summer film Top Gun: Maverick. That movie is popular for a variety of magical reasons, from the fantastic plot to the wonderful cast.

I have had a massive crush on Miles Teller ever since he was in the biopic Bleed For This. I have always thought he was a good looking, talented actor. His talents shine true in his role as Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, who tragically lost his life in a freak training accident in the original Top Gun. Miles portrayed Rooster perfectly in all situations, from when he got angry at Hangman for finding out about his father’s passing, to blaming Maverick for destroying his family and career, to risking his life to save Maverick’s from enemy forces, to forgiving Maverick for what happened all those decades earlier. Great full circle character and a great full circle plot. I’m beyond grateful that he got cast as Rooster. Miles did a phenomenal job and I really would love to see him win an award for this role.

Speaking of Hangman, I was blown straight out of the water by Glen Powell’s performance as Jake “Hangman” Seresin, an arrogant aviator who bullies Rooster and behaves as if he’s the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I found Hangman to be extremely annoying, insufferable, and bratty throughout the first half of the movie, but that just goes to show just how amazing of an actor Glen Powell is. He’s a great full circle character, too. Although he got sent to reserve instead of going on the mission since Maverick doesn’t want him to repeat his mistakes, he shows his caring side to Rooster and later feels remorse for how he’d treated him.

Glen Powell as Jake “Hangman” Seresin (Credit: Texas Monthly)

I am so glad that Glen got a chance to be in Top Gun. I’m so glad that I got to watch him do an amazing job of playing the character that ended up growing on so many people. I wish I could describe the relief I felt when he saved Rooster and Maverick from the enemy fighter jet when the pair were out of ammunition and Rooster couldn’t eject. It goes to show that he not only learned a lot about teamwork, but he wanted to apologize to Rooster for his bullying ways and be a nicer person by saving him from disaster. Not only did I walk out of the theater with a newfound crush on Glen, but I also would love nothing more than to see him win a well-deserved award for his performance.

The film is absolutely emotional, too. I have watched it twice already, and have cried both times. The scenes that really rip my heart out of my chest are the funeral scene and the scene where Rooster barely escapes with his life. I was sobbing so hard at the funeral scene. Not only was it so painful to see a beloved character from the original film die, but it hits close to home as I have experienced my fair share of loss and grief during my lifetime. The scene where Rooster’s plane gets hit left me in tears because I didn’t want Rooster to lose his life. The relief I felt when he survived was immeasurable. 

My heart also hurts for Maverick. He’s lost his closest friend in the past, lost another person who has a special place in his heart, and had to fight to overcome bad blood that the person he tried to be a father figure to has with him. There’s also a gut-wrenching scene where he realized just how much trouble he and Rooster were in. Knowing that this might be his and Rooster’s last day on Earth, he apologizes to his late friend, Goose, for betraying him again by putting his son’s life on the line. That scene is beyond sad. Just thinking about it makes me want to bawl, honestly.

Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Credit: Deadline)

Emotions aside, the entire plotline shows just how well-written and well-produced the movie is. I am blown away with how fantastic of a character arc Hangman and Rooster had. I’m so happy that Hangman got the chance to show his kinder side and earn Rooster’s trust again. Seeing him go out as the frustrating bully with the Flying Spaghetti Monster complex would have been a bummer, honestly. I will always be of the opinion that him becoming compassionate and tenderhearted later on in the movie makes him a great character. If there is a Top Gun 3, I hope that he gets to become Rooster’s wingman. The reconciliation between the two after Hangman saves the day solidifies that Hangman really does want to be on Rooster’s good side. I hope Glen knows how awesome of an actor he is and how deserving of an amazing career he is.

Rooster and Maverick deserve credit for great character arcs, too. Rooster went from a vengeful aviator who is still grieving the most unimaginable loss of his lifetime to a talented pilot who is willing to honor his late father’s memory and put his own life at risk to keep his mentor/father figure alive during a dangerous situation. The fact that he decided that helping stop the bad guys in their tracks was more important than harboring ill will towards a person who just wanted to be a good role model and colleague shows just how far Rooster has come during his career. Miles did a great job of playing a character who chose to let forgiveness and teamwork win instead of anguish and retribution. 

In addition, Tom Cruise did a fantastic job of playing a character who set his ego aside to let others blossom. I feel like he had a stronger sense of self and ego at the beginning, showing the younger flight school grads and pushing the limits in the name of personal satisfaction. As the plot goes on, however, he starts putting the trainees’ best interests first, from mitigating a rage-motivated physical altercation in the classroom, to deciding that he wants to make things right with Rooster and have him be his wingman. There’s a scene where Maverick is angry with Rooster for almost getting himself killed instead of returning to the carrier like he was supposed to, leading to an argument between the two. After they both get back to the carrier alive, Maverick realized that without Rooster, he never would have made it, and thanked him.  It’s a full-circle moment for both characters, and shows that Rooster truly forgives Maverick.

The cast is absolutely amazing. Some other actors whose performances I was blown away with include Monica Barbaro, who plays Natasha “Phoenix” Trace; Danny Ramirez, who plays Mickey “Fanboy” Garcia; and Lewis Pullman, who plays Robert “Bob” Floyd. I’m excited to see works from all of the cast members. I’m very glad to have seen Glen’s performance in Hidden Figures, and I look forward to seeing him in Devotion. I’m excited to check out Danny in Look Both Ways, Monica in Bullish, Lewis in Bad Times at the El Royale, Miles in Whiplash, and Tom in Mission Impossible. I’m only getting started.

Miles Teller as Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Credit: POPSUGAR)

Conclusion? Top Gun: Maverick has won my heart. Big time. It’s my favorite movie of all time, thanks to a great plot, great cast, and great characters. Can’t wait to watch it on digital release and on Blu-Ray. I strongly recommend anyone who may be interested to watch the film. Tissues are recommended due to the emotional scenes, but you’ll be clapping like it’s in your tertiary job description when the movie is over, just like I was. 

SOURCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Gun#:~:text=Top%20Gun%20is%20a%201986,in%20association%20with%20Paramount%20Pictures.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Gun:_Maverick

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Powell

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Barbaro

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_Teller

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Cruise

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Pullman

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Ramirez

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devotion_(2022_film)

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