'Top Gun: Maverick' Is the Perfect Adrenaline Rush

Tom Cruise's sequel brings the charms of the original classic into the modern era.

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

What does it take to make a great action drama? Fighter jets. Kenny Loggins music. Tom Cruise. In 1986, Top Gun, perhaps the ultimate “guys being dudes” action movie set within a training school for the Navy’s best fighter pilots, patented this formula, and added in a bunch of sweaty guys playing beach volleyball and an iconic love scene to seal the deal. Top Gun‘s massive popularity made the announcement of a sequel seem the most natural thing in the world, if not the most exciting: an elder Tom Cruise handing the reins off to a new generation of elite actors. If that’s what you’re expecting, you’re in for a surprise. Top Gun is a classic. Top Gun: Maverick does everything Top Gun did and more.

It’s been thirty-six years since Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) completed his TOPGUN program, but he’s far from the decorated officer he was destined to become by the end of the first movie. He’s dodged every promotion he could dodge, working as a test pilot flying hypersonic stealth jets for the military, but the specter of unmanned drones looms ever closer, spelling the end for an entire era of warfare. Not so fast, though-Maverick is called back to a certain fighter training school as an instructor, tasked with putting together a team of the best of the best to complete a bombing run involving some absurdly complex flying maneuvers at high speed much too close to the ground in enemy territory. If you will, an impossible mission.

The new crop of airmen, now flying F/A-18 Hornets instead of F-14 Tomcats, are kids in Maverick’s eyes, and he shows up to teach them what’s what, inventing training exercises to test their mettle and teach them how to fly as a team. It’s not going to be easy, with the egos of pilots like “Hangman” (Glen Powell), “Fanboy” (Danny Ramirez), “Coyote” (Greg Tarzan Davis) and “Phoenix” (Monica Barbaro) repeatedly clashing as they struggle to work together. And there are two more problems: He only has a few weeks to train these kiddos up to fly a mission from which they might not all return, and one of his students, sullen Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), is the son of Maverick’s old flying partner Goose, who tragically died in the first movie. Not to mention reconnecting with an old flame, single mother Penny (Jennifer Connelly), who manages the local bar and is not about to fall yet again for a guy who’s left her more than once. You see where this is going.

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

The movie begins with a collection of the greatest hits of its predecessor, including but not limited to a montage of jets landing on an aircraft carrier lit by the golden light of the sun, Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” and Maverick defying orders to do something with an aircraft that nobody’s ever done before. This is, after all, a movie that will have more than a few similarities to the one that came before. After that, though, the engines kick into gear (I apologize if this car metaphor doesn’t also work for planes), and Top Gun: Maverick starts to try out a few new tricks.

The interpersonal relationships between the characters are fun and fully realized (Maverick’s perpetual battle of egos with his commanding officer, a Vice Admiral known as “Cyclone” (Jon Hamm) is a highlight) and there’s just enough downtime between white-knuckle action to really get to know everyone. The sweaty beach game returns, but the macho posturing is toned down, given that we live in a new millennium and one of the main pilots is a woman. Val Kilmer reprises his “Iceman” for a touching scene. All of this is complemented by unbelievable flying sequences that will genuinely leave you breathless, each lightning-fast dogfight game and training simulation grander and faster than the last. This is the type of film to see as big and loud as possible.

But, as the original was, Top Gun: Maverick is also simply a straight-up great time at the movies. It makes the act of being a good movie look like the easiest thing in the world, with director Joseph Kosinski showing off everything he’s got. (Yes, you should give Tron: Legacy another shot.) Because “the enemy” is never named, as in the first movie, it is comfortably apolitical (if you disregard the fact that the jets Maverick eventually goes up against are Russian, and what a boon the original Top Gun was for U.S. military recruitment programs), and even though the whole movie is working towards a life-or-death wartime mission, it never forgets that its purpose is to thrill and excite. Great action movies aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Like a good wingman, Top Gun: Maverick swoops in to save the day.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.


The Best TV Shows on Binge

Binge really lives up to its name—the Australian streaming service has some of the best tv shows ever made, thanks to a deal with television giant HBO.

The Roy family from Succession, one of the best shows on Binge.
Photo: Succession

Binge really lives up to its name—the Australian streaming service has some of the best tv shows ever made, thanks to a deal with television giant HBO. The platform has a blend of classic tv hits like Grand Designs, with fourteen full seasons for your viewing pleasure, through to new and hyped shows like Barry and Sanditon. 

There are truly too many great tv shows to cover in one article on Binge, so instead, we’ve selected the best of the best—television series we think you’ll love. From some of the greatest television ever made that demands a viewing session, through to more recent and highly acclaimed tv shows everyone will be talking about over the next year, here is your guide to what you should be streaming on Binge next.

The Walking Dead (2010 – 2022)

With eleven seasons, The Walking Dead is one of the longest-running dramas on television. Its final season is just about to wrap up on Binge, so this is the perfect time to start watching the drama, which sees survivors in America adjusting to a new world after a virus turns the majority of humans into zombies. Far more than just a zombie series, The Walking Dead looks at human relationships and morality in a dystopian future.

Sex And The City (1998 – 2004)

Bingeing Sex And The City never gets old, and all six seasons of the original 90s/00s series are on Binge. Follow Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristen Davis) as they navigate the singles scene of New York City, from makeups to breakups, engagements to scandals, and of course plenty of sex.

Game Of Thrones (2011 – 2019)

Arguably one of the greatest tv shows ever made, the entirety of Game Of Thrones streams on Binge, so plan a weekend and settle in for a viewing. In case you missed the hype the first time around, Game Of Thrones is a sweeping fantasy series about power struggles in Westeros, as kings and queens vie for the Iron Throne. 

Mare Of Easttown (2021)

One of Binge’s most-watched series for 2021, Mare Of Easttown stars Kate Winslet as a Pennsylvanian detective investigating a murder in her small town, where everyone knows everyone – and many harbour dark secrets. Winslet is compelling as Mare, and the episodic plot twists will keep you gripped through the seven-episode limited series.

The Flight Attendant (2020 – )

Imagine waking up in a hotel, having no idea how you made it there… next to a dead man with his throat slashed. That’s the premise of The Flight Attendant, which sees a reckless alcoholic flight attendant (played by Kaley Cuoco) suddenly caught up in a murder mystery. A blend of thriller and dark comedy, the series’ second season just started streaming on Binge.

Euphoria (2019 – )

One of the most controversial tv shows in recent memory, Euphoria is a teen series that’s copped a lot of criticism for its depiction of drug addiction and teenage sex. The show follows Rue (Zendaya) and her wider friendship group as they come of age and work out who they are. This is definitely a heavy series, but it’s worth watching for the stellar acting and stunning cinematography teamed with composer Labrinth’s famous soundtrack.

The Sopranos (1999 – 2007)

Considered one of the best television series of all time, The Sopranos is a must-watch, and all six seasons of the critically-acclaimed show are streaming on Binge. Diving deep into a New Jersey-based mob family helmed by Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), it’s a lengthy series and one where you really need to focus – but with a whopping 21 Emmy awards under its belt, it’s one you won’t regret starting.

This Is Going To Hurt (2022)

Based on the memoir of the same name, This Is Going To Hurt is an eye-opening drama centred around an obstetrics and gynaecology ward within a public hospital. Adam Kay (Ben Whishaw) is an overworked, cynical junior doctor who is ambitious but also grappling with the sheer lack of funding and workplace care within the public health sector. We won’t tell you any more about the series as some of the shocking twists are what make the gripping drama so great, but be prepared for major heartbreak and a show that will sit with you for days afterwards.

Succession (2018 – )

Succession quietly dropped in 2018, but really gained its fanbase from season two. When season three landed last year, the hype reached fever pitch—you’ve definitely heard about this show, but have you watched it yet? It can be slow to start if you’re accustomed to fast-paced dramas, but believe us when we say that once you’re hooked, you won’t be able to stop watching as the Roy family battle it out for power and wealth in America.

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