The hype surrounding Top Gun: Maverick has been very real for the past two years – and arguably long before that since Tony Scott’s original hit theatres – but now, early reactions from the critics in attendance at Las Vegas’ CinemaCon 2022 have only confirmed our suspicions. We’re in for a proper ripsnorter.
For the very first time, the entirety of the highly-anticipated sequel was screened to 3,000 lucky individuals outside of the film’s immediate production and studio. And as the AVClub has pointed out, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single negative word about it. So far.
Praise has even been doled out to the musical elements. For those of you who missed the announcement, Lady Gaga has carried on the torch from Berlin, replacing the iconic ‘Take My Breath Away’ with her latest single ‘Hold My Hand’ – which you can look forward to hearing during the end credits (don’t worry, Kenny Loggin’s ‘Danger Zone’ has apparently made an epic return).
Confirmation bias aside, the news of Top Gun: Maverick actually being a “worthy successor” and the “best film of the year” is rather unsurprising given Tom Cruise’s dedication to practical stunts and high-octane action cinematography compounded with the sheer spectacle it promises to deliver and the nostalgia-rich territory that comes attached with a beloved property such as this. Hell, prior to the latest full-length screening, the first 12 minutes alone had audiences going apeshit.
Unfortunately, the same 13 minutes isn’t readily available to stream for the outside world just yet. The good folks over at Deadline, however, provided the following description of what was screened:
In the sequence, Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (portrayed by Tom Cruise) is informed that the Top Gun program is getting shut down. He decides to defy the Admiral (portrayed by Ed Harris) making the decision to fly to Mach 10. Maverick fires up the jet at dusk in the middle of the desert. He’s warned, “You know what happens if you go through with this.” But Maverick doesn’t care, “I know what happens to everyone else if I don’t." “Alright, sweetheart, one last ride,” the buckaroo pilot adds. “He’s the fastest man alive,” says the control booth technician as Maverick pushes toward Mach 9. The whole room is in awe as Lorne Balfe’s heavenly symphonic music plays. Then as Maverick hits 9.8, it looks like the engine is gonna blow, but he makes Mach 10 and the control room goes wild. Maverick then pushes past 10.1 before his engines blow and the screen in the control room goes dark. It looks like the plane is exploding in mid-air. Maverick lives. We see him walking into the middle of a country diner, the patrons shocked at a pilot entering. “Where am I?” he asks. “Earth,” responds a little boy at the diner counter.
The final trailer dropped this past month offered a better look at Miles Teller as pilot trainee Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, son of the late RIO Nick “Goose” Bradshaw; in addition to introducing this franchise instalment’s answer to the Maverick-Ice Man rivalry with Glen Powell as hotshot flyboy who goes by the callsign of “Hangman.” Let’s just say, even before considering all the complexities of being instructed by your deceased father’s best friend/the man who you hold responsible for your father’s death… emotions, adrenaline, and testosterone levels will run high.
Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, and Glen Powell are joined by Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer, Monica Barbaro, Manny Jacinto, as well as Lewis Pullman. In the director’s chair, you’ll find Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion) working with a screenplay penned by Justin Marks (The Jungle Book), Peter Craig (The Hunger Games), Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle), plus longtime Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie – also known as the bloke behind the two most recent Mission: Impossible films, the next two Mission: Impossible films, and Edge of Tomorrow.
Top Gun: Maverick has a revised release date of May 26th here in Australia – check out a selection of the early reactions from critics below.