The first reviews for Top Gun: Maverick are coming in hot, and the consensus is as subtle as a ’80s power ballad: The sequel rocks. Coupled with significant praise for Tom Cruise‘s dedication to flying around in actual fighter jets instead of using CGI trickery, Top Gun: Maverick is being hailed as a thrilling throwback to the summer blockbusters you grew up with. However, the film surprisingly weaves in an emotional thorough-line between Cruise’s Maverick and the stars’ own status as “The Last Movie Star.”
Strap in and check out what some of the early reviews are saying about the pure adrenaline spectacle that only Cruise can deliver:
Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
I will dispel any mystery about my feelings toward this movie by saying I didn’t just like Top Gun: Maverick, but it’s now just one of my favorite movies. (TO the point I spent money on a poster. I never do that for new movies.) Not “of the year,” but ever. It’s literally one of the best theatrical experiences I’ve ever had.
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly:
Imagine a world where motorcyclists scoff at helmets, all bars burst into jukebox singalongs, and the U.S. military is simply an unblemished agent for good. A few decades ago you didn’t have to, because you lived in it; Top Gun: Maverick can because it never left.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire:
Watching Cruise pilot a fighter jet 200 feet above the floor of Death Valley, corkscrew another one through Washington’s Cascade Mountains, and give one of the most vulnerable performances of his career while sustaining so many G-forces that you can practically see him going Clear in real-time, you realize — more lucidly than ever before — that this wild-eyed lunatic makes movies like his life depends on it. Because it does, and not for the first time.
Peter Debruge, Variety:
One could argue that our new, post-Cold War world didn’t need a “Top Gun” sequel. (Tom Cruise himself once insisted as much.) But one would be wrong to do so. Building on the three-parts-steel-to-one-part-corn equation that director Tony Scott so effectively set 36 years earlier, the new film more than merits its existence, mirroring Cruise’s character, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, in pushing the limits of what the machine could do — the machine in this case being cinema, which takes to the skies as no blockbuster has before.
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times:
Jets still scream and muscles still gleam in the ridiculous and often ridiculously entertaining “Top Gun: Maverick,” though in several respects, the movie evinces — and rewards — an unusual investment of brainpower. I’d go further and say that it offers its own decisive reversal of Maverick’s dubious logic: It has plenty on its mind, and it’s gloriously alive.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter:
The sequel follows the original beat for beat, to a degree that’s almost comical. And yet, as formulaic as it is, there’s no denying that it delivers in terms of both nostalgia and reinvention. Mainstream audiences will be happily airborne, especially the countless dads who loved Top Gun and will eagerly want to share this fresh shot of adrenaline with their sons.
Todd Gilchrist, The AV Club:
Top Gun: Maverick exceeds the original technically, while circumventing naked jingoism in an era when depictions of the military can (or maybe should) no longer be unambiguously celebratory. Joe Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) matches his well-established architectural precision with suitably nostalgic but never pandering emotionality, while Cruise commands the screen in a performance that leverages his multimillion-dollar star wattage to brighten the entire film.
Pete Hammond, Deadline:
Some wonder if Tom Cruise and the producers of Top Gun: Maverick waited too long to do a sequel. After all, it has been 36 years since Top Gun hit screens in 1986. Well, wonder no more. Not only is the timing right and execution of this long-gestating follow-up splendid, but it also actually tops the original in every way imaginable, from an all-knowing performance for the ages from Cruise to its highly emotional storyline, “take my breath away” aerial sequences and just about anything else you want from a studio blockbuster.
Top Gun: Maverick flies into theaters on May 27.