Top Gun Maverick has one of the best action scenes of the last few years
The long-delayed action sequel finally arrives in Irish cinemas this month.
For pretty much the entire final hour of Top Gun: Maverick, you won't be given an opportunity to allow a single muscle in your body to unclench. To use some of the more clichéd sentiments, it is properly edge-of-the-seat, gripping-your-armrests kinda stuff. It is essentially one prolonged sequence, something that the entire movie has been building up to, and it amounts to one of the very best action scenes of recent years.
And in case you're wondering, yes, everything leading up to this scene is pretty great, too.
This is where I make a confession: I didn't really like Top Gun. I was late in life to watching Tom Cruise's seminal action drama, having only watched it for the first time ever during the pandemic, and finding it... well... not all that great. I'm not even 100% sure it had an actual plot. Top Gun was more of a vibe that a movie, representing the epitome of what was cool in 1986, and three-and-a-half decades later, things have changed.
Which is also essentially what is central to the plot to the long-delayed sequel. Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Cruise) is almost thrown out of the navy for pushing a very expensive prototype plane to its limits... resulting in its destruction. But instead of being discharged, he's given one last chance to redeem himself by returning to the Top Gun academy to train the latest batch of best-of-the-best pilots. A select few of these will then be chosen to go on a very dangerous mission (the location of said mission is left conspicuously absent throughout), with the very high likelihood of some - if not all - of them being killed in action.
Also in the mix: Lieutenant Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller), who happens to be the son of Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards), Maverick's former wingman who died while they were on a mission together in the first movie; plus we met Penny (Jennifer Connolly), a former flame of Maverick who just happens to own the bar that all the pilots hang out in. And then there's some military folk who think Maverick isn't up for the job (Jon Hamm, living up to his name), a too-cocky-for-his-own-good bully pilot (Glen Powell), and so on and so on.
The story is incredibly old-school, exactly the kind of melodramatic cheese that you'd expect to see in an '80s action movie, and here it pairs so well with the cutting-edge technology used to bring the action sequences to life.
This truly is one of those IMAX-musts, with the in-plane cameras literally putting you in the thick of it, and director Joseph Kosinski (who has fleetingly grazed greatness with individual scenes from Oblivion, Tron: Legacy and Only The Brave) pulling out all of the stops to ensure that the audience feel every sudden bank and swerve.
And it all leads up to that incredible final act - just one big long stealth attack scene that the movie cleverly explains to you over and over again throughout, so you're never lost in the geography of the action - which will properly (sorry, not sorry) take your breath away.
Plus, it closes out with a Lady Gaga power ballad, who is channelling those great torch songs from '80s cinema, perfectly exemplifying what they're going for here. This is cheesy, for sure, but thanks to the absolutely crackling action scenes and some stellar actors - including what feels Cruise's most emotional performance in a decade - then it is the absolute best kind of cheesy.
Top Gun: Maverick arrives in Irish cinemas on Wednesday, 25 May.
Clip via Paramount Pictures UK