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Top Gun: Maverick Reviews Are Online, And Critics Really Hyping The Intense Aerial Sequences

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick.
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

When critics had the chance to screen Top Gun: Maverick at CinemaCon last month, the first reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Tom Cruise knows his way around an action movie, and the sequel to his 1986 classic also seemed to provide plenty of heart to go along with the insane flight sequences. Now critics' full reviews are in, and sure enough, they seem hyped about the wild ride this movie takes its audience on.

Tom Cruise returns for this sequel more than three decades later as test pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, who has dodged advancement over the years, and now finds himself in charge of training a new group of recent Top Gun graduates for a special mission. Among this new group is Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late friend Goose. Val Kilmer has also reprised his role from the original movie, Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, who is the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. 

Let’s see what the critics are saying about this long-awaited blockbuster, starting with our CinemaBlend review of Top Gun: Maverick. Our own Eric Eisenberg gave the movie 4 stars out of 5, saying this film will take your breath away. He says the story is more compelling and exciting than its predecessor's, and while audiences will feel like they're on a ride for the whole movie, the third act brings cinematic fireworks:

Top Gun: Maverick is a ride as much as it is a film, but instead of being a roller coaster, the metaphor is a bit more literal: you regularly feel like you are a bug that has gone splat across the windshield of a jet fighter while it is flying at multiples of the speed of sound, and it’s an adrenaline kick that never loses its potency. On top of the cinematography being phenomenally immersive, the impeccable sound design makes you feel every sonic boom and engine roar in your lower intestine.

Peter Debruge of Variety calls the film a barrier-breaking sequel, saying the leading man deserves an Oscar for pulling off what the role requires of him. The flight scenes will have audiences feeling like they're right there in the cockpit:

These days, videogame-styled blockbusters rely so heavily on CGI that it’s thrilling to see the impact of gravity on actual human beings, pancaked to their chairs by multiple G-forces. Sophisticated movie magic makes their performances seamless with the exterior airborne shots, while the commitment to filming practically-everything practically feels like the cutting-edge equivalent of Howard Hughes’ history-making Hell’s Angels. The result is the most immersive flight simulator audiences will have ever experienced, right down to the great Dolby roar of engines vibrating through their seats.

More than one critic has said this is a movie that audiences need right now, and Pete Hammond of Deadline says Top Gun: Maverick soars on a different level than the 1986 classic, not just for its special effects, but for its message that we all need a wingman:

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.

The movie is undoubtedly formulaic, David Rooney of THR says, but there’s no denying that it delivers in terms of both nostalgia and reinvention. He and a number of other critics implore audiences to see Top Gun: Maverick on the biggest screen possible:

The most memorable part of Top Gun: Maverick — and the scenes that will make new generations swell with pride and adulation for good old American heroism — are the dogfights and tactical maneuvers of the pilots. Just as they should be. 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.

Mike Ryan of Uproxx raves about Top Gun: Maverick, saying it's now among his favorite movies of all time. He says the simple plot helps it avoid the pitfalls of other blockbusters, which include too many characters and too many stories. This movie is about the mission, and the action:

The team train for this mission so many times, with so many unbelievable aerial stunts, by the end there is absolutely no confusion what the final mission entails. At no time will you be thinking, wait, what’s going on? And it all just looks so sharp. There are no moments when I was thinking this looks like a CGI cartoon, like so many 'blockbuster' movies do today. It all looks so real my stomach was in knots the whole time. Again, this is how it’s done.

It sounds like Top Gun: Maverick had this group feeling the need for speed, so if you’d like to start your summer off with a sonic boom, you can catch this Tom Cruise-led blockbuster in theaters on Friday, May 27. In the meantime, be sure to check out our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to start planning your next movie night.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.