Granger on Film: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Surpasses the Original

After welcoming audiences to the theater, Tom Cruise flies high in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ as a defiant, daredevil fighter pilot, pushing the limits of an airplane – and that’s just the footage. opening.

Still a captain in the U.S. Navy, Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell is reintegrated into the elite training program, Top Gun Academy in San Diego, to prepare a group of rowdy elites for a dangerous mission overseas. They must destroy a uranium enrichment plant that has been cleverly hidden in a heavily fortified valley surrounded by steep mountains.

“It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot,” he told them. But the mission is an emotional minefield as one of the young airmen is “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the resentful son of his best friend “Goose” (Anthony Edwards), and Maverick still feels guilty for the accidental death of his late winger.

Rooster’s super competitive teammates include the arrogant Hangman (Glen Powell), Phoenix (Monica Barbaro), Coyote (Greg Tarzan Davis), Fanboy (Danny Ramirez), Payback (Jay Ellis) and the geeky Bob (Lewis Pullman).

Although senior officer “Cyclone” (Jon Hamm) opposes the leadership of the rule-breaking Rebel, he is outdone by the ailing Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), who knows the approach legendary unorthodox Maverick is the only way to get the tough job done. Finished.

Meanwhile, there’s still unfinished business in the romance department with Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly), a local bartender whose Maverick heart broke years ago.

Director Joseph Kosinski, cinematographer Claudio Miranda, editor Eddie Hamilton and screenwriters Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie remind us of the nostalgic “need for speed” of Tony Scott’s iconic “Top Gun” ( 1986).

Credit Tom Cruise’s compelling performance for evoking genuine emotional involvement as Maverick tries to let go of the past. And at his insistence, there’s no green screen or CGI aerial shots. Even close-ups of the cockpit are taken during live footage in flight. This meant that most actors had to undergo extensive training to withstand G-force pressures during filming.

As a result, there’s enough authentic F-18 dogfight-induced adrenaline to keep us on the edge of our seats, complete with a propulsive musical score and Lady Gaga chirping “Hold My Hand.”

Full disclosure: My son, Don Granger, is an executive producer.

On the 1-10 Granger Gauge, “Top Gun: Maverick” blasts Mach 10, a kinetic sequel that excels the original and is best viewed in IMAX, Dolby, or another premium format if one is available.

Susan Granger has been a television and radio commentator and entertainment critic for over 25 years. Raised in Hollywood, Granger appeared as a child actress in films with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball and Lassie. She currently resides in Westport.