Top Gun: Maverick First Reviews: The Most Thrilling Blockbuster We've Gotten in Years

Critics say the long-awaited sequel is a must-see on the big screen and not only potentially better than the original, but also one of the best Tom Cruise movies ever.

by | May 12, 2022 | Comments

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Tom Cruise returns to the cockpit in Top Gun: Maverick, the long-awaited follow-up to the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun. And if you’re not already feeling the need for speed — again — then you might want to reconsider, because the first reviews for this legacy sequel are clear of the danger zone. In fact, many are even calling it a better movie than the original, and maybe even one of the best Tom Cruise movies of all time.

Here’s what critics are saying about Top Gun: Maverick:

Will Top Gun fans be happy?

On the whole, this is a thrilling sequel which is bound to delight fans of the first film. – Linda Marric, The Jewish Chronicle

It’s a follow-up that will thrill every Top Gun fan. – Philip De Semlyen, Time Out

Mainstream audiences will be happily airborne, especially the countless dads who loved Top Gun and will eagerly want to share this fresh shot of adrenaline with their sons. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

This follow-up, directed by Joseph Kosinski, deals in the same unexpected-itch-scratching bliss: it’s crammed with images you didn’t know you were desperate to see until the second you see them. – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

In the opening moments… you don’t know if you’re watching the original 1986 Top Gun or a new one. – Brian Truitt, USA Today

Tony Scott’s admirers may miss that disreputable edge, the unrepentantly vulgar sensibility that made the original Top Gun a dreamy, voluptuous hoot. – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Paramount Pictures)

How does it compare to the original?

Top Gun: Maverick improves on the original. It’s deeper, it’s not corny, and it has thrilling effects. – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

The dogfights, chases, and mid-air sequences are truly remarkable — far clearer and far more intense than anything in the original Top Gun. – Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

A superior sequel. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

If Top Gun was a fun film because it invented Tom Cruise, Maverick is a great film because it immortalizes him. – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Maverick ideally would be less formulaic – and for the record, it doesn’t quite match the magic of the OG Top Gun. – Brian Truitt, USA Today

Is it a worthy legacy sequel?

Few Hollywood reboots can boast this blend of nostalgia, freshness and adrenaline. You will want to high five someone on the way out. – Philip De Semlyen, Time Out

The film is a true legacy sequel. In the tradition of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s a carefully reconstructed clone of its predecessor, tooled not only to reflect changing tastes and attitudes but the ascendancy of its star Tom Cruise to a level of fame that borders on the mythological. – Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

The sequel follows the original beat for beat, to a degree that’s almost comical. And yet, as formulaic as it is, there’s no denying that it delivers in terms of both nostalgia and reinvention. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Tom Cruise remains deeply ambivalent with the notion of passing the torch to a new generation onscreen and so Top Gun: Maverick remains focused on Maverick and his story, sometimes to the detriment of the young cast. – Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Is this one of the best blockbusters we’ve gotten in recent years?

Top Gun: Maverick is as thrilling as blockbusters get. – Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

Top Gun: Maverick is the most fun I’ve had watching a big dumb Hollywood blockbuster for a while. – Linda Marric, The Jewish Chronicle

Takes to the skies as no blockbuster has before. – Peter Debruge, Variety

The movie soars – a reminder of how good Hollywood can be at popcorn entertainment when it sets its mind to it (and Cruise is involved). – Philip De Semlyen, Time Out

It is unquestionably the best studio action film to have been released since 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

How does it rank against other Tom Cruise movies?

We have surely arrived at the Cruisiest film he’s yet made. – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

It’s not a Tom Cruise movie so much as it’s “Tom Cruise: The Movie.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

In terms of performance, this is one of Cruise’s best pictures. – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

It fully surrenders to the grandiose fun that’s marked the best of Cruise’s recent star vehicles. – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

Cruise finds new ways to add depth to his signature character (sorry, Ethan Hunt) without sacrificing any of his essential qualities. – Brian Truitt, USA Today

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

How is Val Kilmer’s return as Iceman?

Kilmer’s brief cameo, in what has the feel of a swan song, carries far more weight than anything directly related to the story. – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

The film’s most moving element comes during the brief screen time of Kilmer’s Iceman. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

If there’s one scene that really takes your breath away, it’s his. – Brian Truitt, USA Today

In one fictional moment, he gives us something unmistakably, irreducibly real, partly by puncturing the fantasy of human invincibility that his co-star has never stopped trying to sell. – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

Are there any other standouts in the cast?

Miles Teller [gives] an oddly alluring performance that really shouldn’t work as well as it does. – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

Teller, with his best turn since Whiplash, factors in as a worthy emotional foil. – Brian Truitt, USA Today

Jennifer Connelly brings a lot to a thankless role. – Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

Does Top Gun: Maverick deliver as an action movie?

It [has] what is surely one of the most impressive plane-based action scenes ever committed to film. – Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

The real draw here is, of course, the action, and Kosinski asserts his gift for large-scale filmmaking across the film’s runtime. – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

The commitment to filming practically-everything practically feels like the cutting-edge equivalent of Howard Hughes’ history-making Hell’s Angels. – Peter Debruge, Variety

You have a series of character-driven, heart-in-your-throat dogfights more vivid than anything in the first previous film. – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Breathtakingly balletic, and grounded in the increasingly rare pleasure of the tangible… it’s a true feat for director Joseph Kosinski to make something this ambitious look this effortless. – Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

The action scenes [have] a breathtaking beauty and urgency: the play of light and gravity on the actors’ faces, and the way the landscapes spin and drop away balletically through the canopy glass, puts other blockbusters’ green-screened swooping to shame. – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

The best thing this movie does is boost visceral analog action over the usual numbing bombardment of CG fakery. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun: Maverick

(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Paramount Pictures)

Are there any major criticisms?

One would have appreciated a slightly more effective female-centric subplot. – Linda Marric, The Jewish Chronicle

The film, unfortunately, doesn’t extend as much of a loving hand toward the women of Top Gun. – Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

Women are few and far between, and even the more prominent ones get mostly perfunctory treatment. – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

It would’ve been nice to see Meg Ryan return as the widow/mom, but the rules are cruel when it comes to aging female actors. – Peter Debruge, Variety

Do we need to see this on the big screen?

This is definitely a film that benefits from the IMAX experience, and the big-ass soundscape that comes with it. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

This movie needs the big screen, preferably as big as you can find. I saw it in an IMAX theater, and now I have some idea of what it would feel like to take off in a fighter pilot from an aircraft carrier. – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

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. – Peter Debruge, Variety

It’s the kind of edge-of-your-seat, fist-pumping spectacular that can unite an entire room full of strangers sitting in the dark and leave them with a wistful tear in their eye. – Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Will it leave us wanting more?

One can imagine future spinoffs involving any of these characters. – Peter Debruge, Variety

[It’s a] launching pad for a potential second or even third sequel with its young cast at the center of new adventures. – Linda Marric, The Jewish Chronicle

Top Gun: Maverick opens in theaters on May 27, 2022.

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