‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Reviews Hail Tom Cruise’s Emotional, Superior Sequel

The blockbuster takes flight May 27

Paramount Pictures

The reviews for “Top Gun: Maverick” are in, and it sure sounds like the sequel to Tom Cruise’s iconic, macho-driven 1986 film is destined to be one of the most acclaimed blockbusters of the year.

The follow-up finds Cruise reprising his role as Maverick to lead a new group of young pilots, which includes Goose’s son, “Rooster,” played by Miles Teller. Cruise’s “Oblivion” director Joseph Kosinski is behind the camera and his “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie is onboard as a co-writer and producer, and together it appears this team has actually made a sequel that’s better than the original.

In his review at IndieWire, David Ehrlich hailed the film as a kind of thesis statement for Cruise’s movie stardom: “If ‘Top Gun’ was a fun film because it invented Tom Cruise, ‘Maverick’ is a great film because it immortalizes him. It’s not a Tom Cruise movie so much as it’s ‘Tom Cruise: The Movie,’ and by the time it’s over, even his fiercest critics might have to admit that they’ll miss him when he’s gone.”

In his LA Times review, Justin Chang hailed “Maverick” as a superior film to the original: “’Top Gun: Maverick’ is a longer, costlier and appreciably weightier affair, and its expanded emotional scope and heightened production values (including a score by the original film’s composer, Harold Faltermeyer) give it a classy, elegiac sheen; it’s like a hot summer diversion in prestige-dinosaur drag, or vice versa.”

Variety’s Peter Debruge noted that the sequel is unsurprising, but that’s far from a bug: “Hardly anything in “Top Gun: Maverick” will surprise you, except how well it does nearly all the things audiences want and expect it to do.” The critic added that Cruise deserves an Oscar for his performance – stunts and all: “He won’t get an Oscar for pantomiming such swallow-your-pride stoicism, though Cruise deserves one for everything else the role demanded of him: If the flying scenes here blow your mind, it’s because a great many of them are the real deal, putting audiences right there in the cockpit alongside a cast who learned to pilot for their parts.”

THR’s David Rooney noted in his review that the film’s reliance on practical effects over CGI makes a world of difference: “The best thing this movie does is boost visceral analog action over the usual numbing bombardment of CG fakery, a choice fortified by having the actors in the airborne cockpits during shooting.”

Over at IGN, Matt Donato praised the film’s throwback 80s blockbuster nature: “It’s never an exceptionally thoughtful movie about pilots pushed to the brink by Naval command, but it doesn’t have to be when an insatiable need for speed propels standout action sequences. ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is good ol’ cheesy as hell, silly-heroic entertainment with mile-high enthusiasm — a welcome throwback to simpler cinematic times.”

Not every critic was won over by the film, however, as TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde compared his viewing experience unfavorably to a ride: “’Top Gun: Maverick’ resembles an amusement-park ride in all the worst ways, in that every second feels designed to provoke a response. It’s as much an entertainment machine as a roller coaster.”

Duralde also noted that the film is, in many ways, exactly like the original: “In the end, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ counts as a worthy sequel in that it succeeds and fails in many of the same ways as the original. It’s another cornball male weepie and military recruitment ad that feels like every WWII movie got fed into an algorithm, and the flying sequences are breathtaking enough to make you forget that these guys and gals are engaging in the kind of combat scenarios that start wars.”

“Top Gun: Maverick” opens exclusively in theaters on May 27.