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Top Gun: Maverick (Christian Movie Review)

Verdict: One of the best films of the year. An exhilarating sequel that delivers blockbuster cinema at its finest. 

About The Film

Do you feel the need? The need for speed? If so, you’re in luck! At long last, this eagerly anticipated—and long delayed—sequel is flying into movie theaters, arriving a staggering 36 years after the original Top Gun (1986). Is it worth the wait? Absolutely! Top Gun: Maverick is superb, and easily one of the best movies of the year.  

I loved almost everything about this film. In an age where many people are quick to declare, “The future is streaming,” Top Gun: Maverick is the quintessential theatrical experience, and blockbuster cinema at its finest. The story picks up years after the events of the original film, as Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is called back to the Top Gun flight school to train an elite batch of young pilots for a critical, and seemingly impossible mission (good thing Mr. Cruise knows a thing or two about impossible missions).

The main attraction for a Top Gun movie is to watch cool fighter jets do cool things, and Top Gun: Maverick fully understood the assignment. The aerial scenes are phenomenal. I watched the film in a large Dolby theater, and the seats were rumbling as the jet engines roared to life. You can feel the flight scenes as much as see them. Most of the aerial scenes actually occur as training exercises, with the only real combat occurring during the climactic mission at the end. Despite this, the film still manages to maintain unrelenting tension. And by the time that final mission arrives, the entire theater was holding our collective breath.  

Top Gun: Maverick is not just about planes, though. One of the repeated plot points is an emphasis on “the man inside the box.” The new group of young pilots hold their own, even if none are developed with much depth and remain fairly one-note (the “cocky” one, the “awkward” one, etc.). Only Miles Teller’s “Rooster” is given much to do, as the son of “Goose” from the original film. But the movie is called Top Gun: Maverick, not Top Gun: Next Generation. The film is very much a Tom Cruise-centric film, as he once again proves that he remains one of the few true “movie stars” in Hollywood.  

At times, this sequel lays the nostalgia on thick with call backs and familiar locations and songs returning from the original film. At the same time, the nostalgic elements never feel cheap; they serve the plot, rather than become the plot. Top Gun Maverick has a story worth telling and pushes all the right buttons to deliver it. The only negative I have is that the theme song will now be struck in my head for the indefinite future.

On the Surface

For Consideration

Profanity: 1 prominent F-bomb, and frequent other profanities (mostly sh—).   

Sexuality: One implied (but not depicted) sexual encounter.

Violence: None. Fighter planes are shot from the sky and explode, but there is no blood or death depicted.

Beneath the Surface

Engage the Film

Inspiring the Next Generation

The main narrative tension in the film is Maverick’s transition from a hot shot pilot to a flight instructor. He is clearly a superior pilot but struggles to equip the students. At one point, during an emotional scene with Iceman (Val Kilmer), Maverick says, “A fighter pilot is who I am, not what I am. But how do I teach them that?”

Ultimately, he learns that he can’t just tell them how; he must show them. He had been lecturing them for weeks and running them through drills, but morale is low and the students are unable to complete the simulated mission. One of the film’s best moments is when Maverick gets into a plane and shows them it can be done. By showing, rather than telling, he inspires them to achieve more than they thought possible of themselves.

Maverick ends up with a prominent and active role in the mission, which may seem to undercut the theme of inspiring the next generation, but I think it actually offers a better and wiser approach. The story is not about “passing of the baton” as much as it is striving together side by side. It brings to mind the relationship between the Apostle Paul and Timothy, “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:2).  

Another stand-out moment is a scene where the pilots play football on the beach (a clear call-back to the iconic scene in the original film). In the beginning, Maverick is right in the action with the young pilots. But eventually he exits to sit on the sidelines, observe, and lets the young pilots play amongst themselves. The subtle moment provides a visual metaphor for a generational church, where the young respecting the wisdom of the older generations, the old trust and give space for the young, and all are united by a shared Gospel mission.

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