Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Joseph Kosinski and Paramount Pictures is a return to the sky with TOP GUN MAVERICK.

Captain Peter “Maverick” Mitchell is still flying after all these years and this time testing a craft much to the dismay of his superiors. Surprise, right? Instead of trouble, he is surprised to learn that Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) has requested that he return to where it all began – Top Gun.

But that is not the only surprise as Maverick looks at the list of pilots he will be training for a special mission and sees a name he knows. As part of the mission, Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller) will be one of his trainees. This elite group needs to be trained to do one of the most dangerous jobs that requires the destruction of a uranium facility while being surrounded by missiles.

Returning to a place that holds painful memories, the local watering hold still remains, and he reunites with former love interest Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) who now owns the business and is raising teen daughter Amelia (Lyliana Wray). Now its time to meet the trainees with “Rooster”, Lt. “Hangman” Seresin (Glen Powell), Lt. “Bob” Floyd (Lewis Pullman), Lt. “Phoenix” Trace (Monica Barbaro), Lt. “Payback” Fitch (Jay Ellis), Lt. “Fanboy” Garcia (Danny Ramirez), and Lt. “Coyote” Machado (Greg Davis).

There is instant tension between Maverick and Rooster as a past history could derail the training. Yet, Maverick takes to the air and lets his trainees know that they have met their cocky match! Their confidence is taken down several pegs when they realize that the legendary dogfighting Maverick lives up to his name.

Rooster is not the only one still living with past pain, Maverick turns to Penny when trying to find a way to reach the young pilot who reminds him so much of “Goose”. Trying the old ways, the teacher slowly reaches each one of the pilots discovering their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing that, the group turns into a well-oiled machine. Meeting with “Iceman”, Maverick receives the final boost he needs to make this mission work.

Now, there is no more time and no more excuses as the mission needs to happen quickly, accurately and with bravery. As they lock on to their target, Maverick and his pilots are met with enemy squadrons, and they have the Top Gun pilots in their sites. It is time to put away memories and issues because they are in enemy territory, and it is time to get the job done!

Cruise as Maverick returns a slightly aged and unrepentant pilot who has not changed in the way he handles things, ergo still being a Captain. After butting heads with his superiors, he returns to the place that has both good and bad memories – Top Gun. Cruise flies into his Maverick flight suit with precision and ease as if 1986 were only yesterday. He still carries swag and posturing on the outside with memories of mistakes and regret on the inside.

Teller as Rooster has is own swag and posturing but the added bonus of loathing for his new Captain. The story of his past unravels slowly but one thing is clear, the past can not stay there forever as Maverick and Rooster have to deal with their issues if the mission and their relationship is to work. Teller does his role justice and that had to be difficult following in the footsteps of another to closely tied to the 1986 storyline.

Connelly as Penny brings a new but not so new element to the story as the past interest of Pete Mitchell. Having this story play out in the iconic watering hole of the original film helps, and letting their story unravel plays into Maverick’s insecurities but Penny is not a heart broken woman pining for a long lost pilot – instead, she is a strong woman raising a teenager and owning a business. I liked that about Connelly’s role here giving off an air of ‘I can take it or leave it’ when it came to any relationship.

Powell as Hangman gets to be a bit icy (see what I did there?) and shows the Top Gun pilot cockiness that is not going to serve him well, especially considering who he is up against. It is fun to watch his character go through the ropes as all of them must grow up if they are to survive the mission.

Shout out to Ed Harris, who I adore, and Jon Hamm for their part to play in knowing that Maverick just does not follow the rules exactly but damn is he good at what he does!

Now, can we talk about Val Kilmer? What an amazing, touching and well-deserved moment on the screen between Maverick and Ice Man. It was needed and had there not been such a time between these two characters, I might have had something different to say about the film. Tissue moment? Absolutely.

Other cast includes Manny Jacinto as Fritz, Jack Schumacher as Omaha, Bashir Salahuddin as “Hondo” Coleman, Jake Picking Lt. “Harvard” Lennox, Jean Kelly as Sarah Kazansky, Raymond Lee as Lt. “Yale” Lee, Charles Parnell as Rear Admiral “Warlock” Bates, Jon Hamm as Vice Admiral Simpson and Ed Harris as Rear Admiral “Hammer” Cain.

Paramount Pictures is the longest operating and remaining major studio in Hollywood that has been on the ground floor of every major development in film. From the advent of motion pictures to the emergence of television, through the digital revolution, Paramount Pictures has been there. During our 100-year history, we have served as the production site for thousands of notable movies and television shows. For more please visit

TOP GUN MAVERICK was not a film I was terribly sure about and let me tell you why. I enjoyed the 80’s and TOP GUN was a part of that, then time has its way with us all. So, when the idea was floated out some time ago, my interest was not really peaked. At that time, I could take it or leave it. Then the pandemic arrived and the movie going experience went into the void.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing the film with no expectations. I sat back and as the film began, I was hit immediately with a recognizable song that made me smile and maybe even mouth the words a little bit. Then, right into Maverick doing what Maverick does – finding a way around the establishment to get a job done.

Returning to Top Gun is a return for everyone who was ever in the theatre in 1986 because of one fact that I still believe about TOP GUN MAVERICK – they did not try to reinvent the wheel. Story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks and written into the screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Eric Singer and Christopher McQuarrie, the film’s success is in the fact that these five people kept it simple, fast and nostalgic.

The issues are ready to be resolved on some level, the jets are fast and loud, the characters are as we remember, and an even hand was kept on the flashbacks. Cruise took a cinematic step having close-up cockpit takes during the flight sequences that almost made me a little nauseous, but damn is it very cool.

With the holiday weekend coming up, TOP GUN MAVERICK is going to fill seats because of the action and nostalgia. For those of us in San Diego, well, living in American’s Finest City, we get to brag that the real Fighter Town U.S.A. is right in our own back yard!

In the end  –  it is full throttle as our breath is once again taken away!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.