Top Gun: Maverick – Joseph Kosinski

Tom Cruise as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the sequel Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick (photo credit: Paramount Pictures)

It’s rare that a sequel, especially one 36 years in the making, delivers exactly what its most dedicated fans desire – but that is exactly what Top Gun: Maverick has done, and why it has managed to surpass $1B worldwide in less than a month.

After countless delays due to a global pandemic, Top Gun: Maverick was finally released to audiences worldwide on May 27, 2022 and to say the reception was warm might be the understatement of the century. This is the biggest film Tom Cruise has ever done, and many would say it’s also the best. Reprising his role of fighter pilot Pete Mitchell, aka “Maverick”, Tom Cruise has done something truly inspiring and downright badass – he has brought the blockbuster back to life. And it was worth the wait.

Sure, there have been big movies released in 2021 and 2022 – Spider-Man: No Way Home, F9: The Fast Saga, No Time to Die, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Jurassic World Dominion – but Top Gun: Maverick is distinctly different in that it doesn’t rely on CG and an established brand (not to mention 7+ other films in the series) to capture the audience. Unlike the movies listed, almost everything you see in Top Gun: Maverick is real, and that’s what audiences have come to expect from Tom Cruise as an actor and filmmaker, a dazzling spectacle of epic stunts and a perfect balance of excitement, humour, and heart.

Tom Cruise flying in a fighter jet in Top Gun: Maverick
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Top Gun: Maverick picks up 30+ years after the original 1986 film. Maverick is a test pilot who isn’t afraid of pushing the boundaries of an airframe or an Admiral’s patience (Ed Harris). He ultimately finds himself back at the Top Gun school at the request of “Ice Man” (Val Kilmer) – a former Top Gun classmate who is now a respected Admiral – and is asked to train a handful of fighter pilots for an impossible mission. The problem? He’s not a teacher, he’s a pilot. The other problem? One of the students is the son of his “back-seater” Goose, who died after a terrible accident in the original film (which he still feels responsible for). The result is tension between Mav and his superiors (Jon Hamm, Charles Parnell) – no surprise there – as well as his students as he tries to figure out a way to teach them how to fly with reckless abandon, push themselves to the absolute limit, and survive the upcoming mission.

Of course, there has to be a love interest, and it’s pure genius that they decided to weave in a reference from the original film (Penny Benjamin, the infamous “Admiral’s daughter”) so that audiences instinctively know the two have an established history. Penny is played by beautiful, yet age-appropriate, Jennifer Connelly and the pair make for a good enough on-screen match to satisfy the audience. She provides a sounding board for Maverick when things go sideways and gives him the confidence boost he needs.

Newcomers Glen Powell, Jay Ellis, Monica Barbaro, and Lewis Pullman are perfectly believable as a group of young, cocky fighter pilots and that’s because every one of them were in those F-18s at the behest of Tom, pulling all those Gs and suffering through endless flight training. Miles Teller was probably the best casting choice, rocking a Goose-inspired moustache and using his acting chops (if you haven’t seen Whiplash, watch it) to make us believe he is royally pissed at his Dad’s best friend and has his own confidence issues to work through. He is also the source of a couple of the film’s biggest laughs, so you have to give him props for his comedic timing.

Maverick is just what every cineplex in the country has been crying out for.”

The Atlantic

You can tell that every aspect was carefully crafted by Tom and Director Joseph Kosinski to cater to Top Gun newbies as well as the most dedicated super-fans. There is so much to be impressed with, that the story (which is actually quite good) is almost secondary. Much like the original movie, you have intense training sequences, a love interest, a shirtless game on the beach (naturally..), and then a dangerous mission with real bogies and real stakes.

The runtime is a bit over two hours but the pace is really good. There is enough downtime between flying scenes that you don’t get overly exhausted (looking at you Mad Max) but you also don’t get bored. For those worried about the cringey ‘80s-ness of the original Top Gun, fear not; Top Gun: Maverick is as 2020s as it gets, but with enough nostalgia to make you grin ear-to-ear (and perhaps shed a tear or two).

Top Gun: Maverick Rotten Tomatoes score of 96% from critics and 99% from audiences.
Top Gun: Maverick score on (July 2022)

Parents don’t have to be worried about a long, slow, awkward sex scene like the first movie – thankfully they opted to skip that part completely – and the only aspect that some might be concerned about is a bit of profanity and one perfectly-placed f-bomb that is typical of PG films. Young kids might be bored during the scenes that don’t involve flying, but overall it is a very family friendly film that even 5-year-olds can enjoy. It might even inspire the next generation of pilots, much like the original did when US Navy recruitment spiked by 300% after it was released in 1986!

It’s preferable that you see it on the biggest screen possible and with the loudest sound system. It was made for the theatre, so do your best to get out and see the biggest movie of the year. Whether you join the Navy or not, you will absolutely feel the need for speed and will probably talk about it all the way back home. You might even plan to go see it again like 16% of the movie’s audience has done (according to Paramount Pictures). From personal experience, I can say for certain that the second (and third) time does not disappoint!

Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Christopher McQuarrie

Mission: Impossible – Fallout starring Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames,and Rebecca Ferguson.
Photo credit: Chiabella James/Paramount Pictures

It’s pretty clear that Christopher McQuarrie (Director – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Writer – Edge of Tomorrow) likes working with  Tom Cruise, they have collaborated on five other films before Mission: Impossible – Fallout in various capacities. When a Producer/Director/Writer has a good working relationship with an actor, it typically comes out on the screen. In the case of McQuarrie and Cruise, it has resulted in many wildly successful action films over the last decade, with Fallout having the best opening weekend for the entire six-movie franchise. 

Critics have called Fallout one of the best action movies ever made. And it’s true, the action doesn’t stop – it is pure escapism at its finest. It’s hard to believe that the hanging-from-an-airplane-scene or the underwater-scene-done-in-one-breath could be topped, but the stunts in Fallout do just that.  Yes, stunts – with an “s”. They are the cornerstone of the franchise and, frankly,  no one can do it better than Tom Cruise. It never leaves you doubting the reality of what you’re seeing on screen because you already know it’s real. In a world where visual effects are generally overdone and entire films are done with the help of a green screen, Mission:Impossible still clings to the notion that “real is better than fake”. When it can be pulled off like it is in Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation, and Fallout, that is most definitely true.

Fallout follows Ethan Hunt and his team on another mission to stop world destruction when a group gets their hands on a set of weaponized plutonium. Again, Hunt finds himself in a compromising situation (or three) when he has to take matters into his own hands to stop the criminal organization. Lane (Sean Harris) is back from the previous film and is hellbent on destroying Hunt and everything he holds dear. In true Mission: Impossible fashion, there’s double crossing, hand-to-handle battle, a lot of running, intriguing villains, and beautiful women. There’s even a surprising connection to the first Mission: Impossible through one of the new characters, but if you don’t catch it, it’s nothing to lose sleep over. Henry CavillVanessa Kirby, and  Angela Bassett are welcomed additions to the franchise and each new character makes Hunt’s journey a little more interesting this time around. 

Photo credit: Chiabella James/Paramount Pictures

Typically after six movies, some of the cast starts to drop off or replacements are used for certain characters. In the case of the Mission: Impossible film franchise, that hasn’t seemed to be the case. It leads one to believe they really enjoy their work. Tom Cruise may not necessarily be the most likable actor due to his religious beliefs and prior talk show antics (Oprah’s couch), but it certainly appears that he is well-liked in Hollywood, and not just for his almost-guaranteed box-office draw. Between all the stunts and the witty banter between characters, the Mission: Impossible movies just look like a lot of fun to be part of – and a big part of that (like it or not) is due to Tom Cruise. Action movies aren’t known for being very genuine and typically whatever “depth” they attempt to throw in usually seems a bit forced. Mission: Impossible has always been a little bit different though – the balance just….works. You’ll laugh, hold your breath, and take Hunt seriously, all at he same time.

It’s an easy franchise to be loyal to. The formula is the same, the actors/characters are the same (for the most part), and it just keeps getting bigger and better. Oh, and Tom Cruise runs. What’s not to like?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to run (Tom Cruise style) to the nearest theatre and watch the latest installment on the big screen. You won’t regret it. *cue iconic theme song*

Watch the official trailer here:

Edge of Tomorrow – Doug Liman

Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt

It was a summer filled with crowd pleasing blockbusters like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Transformers 4 but if you didn’t get a chance to see Edge of Tomorrow in theatres, then be sure to look for it on DVD/Blu-Ray October 7. In a spring/summer filled with sequels, it was one of the more unique movies to hit theatres and, given its company, it didn’t get as much credit as it should have.

It was like Groundhog Day on steroids, and a lot less annoying. Tom Cruise plays “Major William Cage” who unexpectedly gets caught in the middle of a seemingly unwinnable war against robotic aliens and at the same time finds himself in a continuous time-loop where he cannot stay dead. When he does die, which is inevitable in this alien war, he wakes up a moment later at the beginning of the first day where he must relive all of the same moments over again. It was refreshing to see him in a role where he starts off as a bit of a coward who doesn’t know what he’s doing and grows into the macho killing machine we’re so used to. He’s the opposite of a hero when he begins his journey to the front lines where the battle resembles the beginning of Saving Private Ryan, except with terrifying alien killing machines and a lot more fire power. Emily Blunt was surprisingly a great fit for the female lead, a bad-ass war hero with a take-no-shit attitude.

It’s a lot of fun to watch Cage die over and over again and attempt to figure out different ways to make it through the day without getting himself killed, and of course save mankind in the process. Edge of Tomorrow is an extremely fast-paced movie with enough complexity and witty dialogue that makes one wonder how it was all crammed into 113 minutes, an ideal length for an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi action movie (Michael Bay, please take note).

Tom Cruise, as always, has a lot of impressive stunts and actually comes across as funny as the movie plays on. As he quickly becomes a seasoned war veteran through his live, die, repeat sequence, we see him slowly gain the respect of Rita (Emily Blunt) and their relationship, mostly based on tolerance and sarcasm, is pretty amusing to watch. There is some chemistry there, but thankfully that’s not what the movie is focused on.

All in all, it is a unique, fun, and action-packed movie that most people should enjoy. The plot is fairly complex but shouldn’t be too hard to follow as you gain more and more knowledge of the situation as the movie progresses. Do yourself a favour and don’t focus on the loopholes (there are bound to be a few in a story like this) – just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.