Sometimes weighed down by its deference to Tony Scott’s classic, this late sequel nonetheless remains an exhilarating “ride”, worn by a conquering Tom Cruise.
Tony Scott, director of the first Top Gun in 1986, summed it up like this: “Scenes between characters are just breaks between airplane scenes“. Keeping this idea in mind, we can’t blame too much on Top Gun: Maverick to be more comfortable in the air than on dry land. We will say that it is a way of remaining faithful to the original… On the ground, this late sequel (36 years later!) is indeed weighed down by a kind of overplayed, mechanical nostalgia. Yellowed photos hanging on the wall, flashbacks, tributes to the veterans of the first film… This excessive reverence for the past provokes very little emotion, firstly because we are beginning to be frankly tired of the eighties fixation in which mainstream American cinema for a good fifteen years (the director Joseph Kosinsky himself began his career as a filmmaker with TRON: Legacyin 2010), but also because this strong backwardness indirectly underlines the limits of mythology Top Gun, the narrowness of a universe that is still quite rudimentary (patriotism with all smiles, women confined to figuration, etc.). It’s hard to summon excerpts from the first film without drawing attention to the fact that they are not at all the vignettes of classic great cinema that we would like us to believe they are. The frankly inelegant expulsion of Kelly McGillis’ character in favor of a new love-interest played by Jennifer Connelly, artificially parachuted into the plot, shows the complicated relationship that Top Gun: maverick maintains with the original film.
maverick takes off completely, on the other hand, when he indulges in the joys of speed, kinetic euphoria, pure sensation. Without aping Tony Scott’s “setting sun” aesthetic, Joseph Kosinski imposes his elegant touch, a mixture of post-Michael Bay Americana chromos and supersonic fluidity. The aerial scenes frankly nail the armchair. The first twenty minutes, which combine The stuff of heroes and Rock in the age of combat drones, provide supreme cinematic pleasure. Many things here, in truth, are much better than in the Tony Scott – starting with the “military” plot, Tom Cruise and stalwart Christopher McQuarrie (here producer and co-writer) having fun along the way turning this Top Gun 2 in a kind of Mission: Impossible 6 ½. Arrived in the film as a tired veteran, almost like a ghost (this is undoubtedly the first film of his career where the actor plays so much on his age, on a form of inadequacy to the contemporary world), confronted with the role that put into orbit and which defined its persona, Tom Cruise emerges from the adventure regenerated, almost resuscitated, affirming his nature as a super-VRP of the “cinema experience” (it is a film to be seen in theaters, obliged). The mythology of Top Gun may be limited, but that of its star seems inexhaustible.
Top Gun: Maverickby Joseph Kosinski, with Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly… At the cinema on May 25.