Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick ★★★★½

Tom Cruise made a film about how much of an awesome guy he is, and even though the current media landscape has no place for his movie star presence, he’s going to give it his all and deliver the goods.

And he does.

TOP GUN: MAVERICK is one hell of a time.

I have no love for the original TOP GUN beyond its surface aesthetics and iconic music, so I scoffed at the idea of a long-gap sequel the trailers sold as nostalgia bait and little else. The film's director Joseph Kosinski hasn’t made anything I liked. TRON: LEGACY? Great soundtrack. Dull everything else. OBLIVION? Snoozeville.

So, how does TOP SECRET: MAVERICK work as well as it does? Why do the flight sequences feel propulsive, the structure so efficient, and the Cruise-ness of it all so carefully calibrated?

Enter Christopher McQuarrie.

He is credited as one of three screenwriters, but I think everything good about MAVERICK should be laid at the feet of McQuarrie. He directed Cruise in JACK REACHER, did re-writes on EDGE OF TOMORROW, and has written and helmed the last four MISSION IMPOSSIBLE movies. There’s a reason McQuarrie has been chained to the Cruise since directing him in JACK REACHER: He gets Tom. He knows how to deploy him in specific ways, treat him as a movie star, and build a blockbuster around him. At the same time, McQuarrie is an incredibly efficient craftsman, who understands the structures of a blockbuster set-piece, and knows how to tighten the screws in absolutely seamless ways. There’s no way in hell the work of the other screenwriters Ehren Krueger (TRANSFORMERS III) and Eric Warren Singer (THE INTERNATIONAL) is anywhere on the screen. This is McQuarrie through and through - to the point that I started to notice some shots and cuts that were very much in the stripped-down style of the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE films. McQuarrie has said publicly that TOP GUN is one of the things he’s proudest to have worked on - which leads one to believe that he did more than just write the script - and may have stepped in during production/post to polish this up. And it’s all the better for it.

See it on a massive screen. It's worth it.

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