35 years and delays related both to COVID-19 and quality control later, the long-awaited Top Gun sequel is here and it’s…apparently great? With a May 27 release date firmly in sight, the reviews for Top Gun: Maverick have started rolling in and the hype has risen well above usual cruising altitude.
In an overwhelmingly positive review for The Daily Beast, Nick Schager praised director Joseph Kosinski for both honoring the visual style of the first Top Gun, directed by the late Tony Scott, while also “putting his own stamp on the rah-rah material” through clever close-ups and a grounded approach to the aerial shots that feels refreshingly authentic. David Ehrlich of IndieWire wrote that it was the “most satisfying” summer action blockbuster we’ve gotten since another Tom Cruise Joint, 2018’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Ehrlich and several other critics have noted the parallels between the film’s handling of Maverick as the last of a dying breed and Cruise’s own status within Hollywood as one of the few remaining old school action stars.
The Ringer, in typical tongue-in-cheek fashion, hailed Maverick as a masterpiece of “Dad Cinema” and praised Cruise for his continued defiance of Father Time. Uproxx’s Mike Ryan dubbed it “… literally one of the best theatrical experiences I’ve ever had,” even though he saw it at a sparsely attended press screening. Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld gushed about the film, calling it “One of the greatest sequels ever made.” Polygon’s Oli Welsh called Maverick “a slavish tribute to the first Top Gun,” but also stressed he thought it was “a better film,” while also being kinder and more lighthearted.
But the most excited early review comes from video game design legend Hideo Kojima, who summed up his experience seeing the movie in IMAX: “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh! Oh, my God!!!! This is awesome!!!!!!! It’s too good!!!! It’s so great!!!!!!!” Kojima wrote, vowing to see it three more times.
There’s a checkered history with these sorts of long gestating “legacy sequels.” They’re often misfires, but ,the best tend to introduce new protagonists (Creed) or go for more thematic and tonal consistency instead of continuing an existing narrative (Mad Max: Fury Road).
Top Gun: Maverick will be in theaters for 120 days, an incredibly long window in the era of simultaneous streaming releases.We can hear the chords of “Great Balls of Fire” already.