Movie #1 2023: Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Hooray! We’re finally onto my 2023 First Watches. So what a better way to begin… than with one of the top films of 2022? Sigh. I’m sorry. In my defence though, we’re hardly being inundated with 2023 releases yet, are we? Since the Academy Awards are just around the corner, now’s about the time that British cinemas gatekeep all of the most likely Oscar-nominees until it’s prime time to view them, so starting 2023 with some of the so-called ‘best’ of 2022 seems like a logical way to begin.

Although Avatar: The Way of Water technically jumped in the lead at the end of last year, Top Gun: Maverick was the biggest taker at the worldwide box office before that. Taking quadruple the revenue of that of the original 1986 Top Gun, some might even say it over-performed. However, since it was so long since the first film, it shouldn’t be all that surprising. Not only did it capture the theatrical pull of those who had nostalgic memories resurfacing, but it also brought in new viewers, probably thanks to the help of actors like Miles Teller and the fact that the trailer for this one clearly showed the world that there have been a fair few advancements in CGI and stunt work since the eighties.

We re-join Maverick (Tom Cruise) more than thirty years after losing his best friend Goose in the field, however, it comes as a bit of a surprise that he never got promoted and he never moved on, preferring to stay at Top Gun as a Captain. When it becomes apparent though that his superiors are willing him to retire, he has no choice but to agree to train the next troupe of Top Gun pilots to be just as good as he is. During this time, he is asked to conduct a mission that seems almost impossible, and is forced to face Goose’s now grown up son in the process.

Firstly, Happy New Year! Yeah, yeah, we’re half way through January already, but I’m a little behind, okay? For some reason I’ve had a lot of plans this month, which is unusual for me. Secondly, I bought a massive new TV last week, so what better movie to watch first on it than a gargantuan blockbuster?

What may shock you is that I didn’t quite love Maverick as much as most did. That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate many aspects of it though; any old casual movie goer will surely see that there’s a lot of expertise on display here and struggle to argue against that. But labelling it as the best movie of 2022? In my opinion, it’s not quite there.

I will admit, I begin with a slight bias purely because I can’t stand Tom Cruise in general. Everything from his middle tooth to his frankly psychotic links to Scientology make him wildly abhorrent to me, but I won’t deny his box office pull, even if I don’t understand it myself. Put him to one side, and the rest of the cast were much better. The stand out here is undoubtedly Miles Teller as Rooster, although it was nice to see Jennifer Connelly again. The release of Maverick pushed many to characterise Cruise as the ‘last remaining movie star’, but honestly, watch Teller and tell me he’s not a true movie star. Dare you.

What most pleased me personally however is the extent to how much better this was than the original Top Gun. Whilst I can’t say I was completely enthralled by some of the quieter scenes or the romantic sequences, the story of the main mission was so exciting to see unfold. You’ve probably heard time and time again how great the special effects and the action sequences are… but it’s completely warranted. I’ll give it that. Every single scene that was set in the air left me wanting more, partly because the mission at hand was so ballsy and filled with risk.

Perhaps what’s most surprising is that the film flies by (hehe) super quickly for a +120 minute feature. I won’t jump on the 5 star bandwagon for the sake of it, but I will admit that Top Gun: Maverick is full of thrills and technical prowess, even if its main man is a huge ass.

Top Gun: Maverick is currently available to stream on Paramount Plus in the UK.

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