Tom Cruise Is The Last Movie Star – Top Gun: Maverick Review

Top Gun: Maverick: Directed by Joseph Kosinski

SYNOPSIS: After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.

Top Gun Maverick came out this weekend and I absolutely loved it.

A lot of that has to do with Tom Cruise and the superstar value that comes from his absolutely bonkers stunts, but I will cover all of that later.

Top Gun: Maverick is why you go to the movies. The ultimate definition of the cinematic experience. Now, walking in I was excited, but a little skeptical. I heard the praise from all of my critic friends and the very unexpected Oscar buzz and needed to pump the breaks.

There’s no way this film is more than just a cheesy action movie right? Well, I’m very happy to report that this IS more than just a cheesy action movie. The thing I love the most about Top Gun Maverick is the ability the writing has to both respect the past while also having a plot that doesn’t rely on that nostalgia. Really effective emotional writing. The arc of Maverick and Rooster is phenomenal and being backed by fantastic performances from both Tom Cruise and Miles Teller elevates the material. I never expected a film like this to be as well written as it was.

Not only was the writing great, but I love this cast so much. Everyone gets their moment to shine and throughout the runtime we find a reason to love each character. Miles Teller of course is a standout bringing the emotion necessary to portray the son of Goose. I also have to give honorable mentions to Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro and Lewis Pullman for bringing really awesome performances to the screen.

But what are we here to talk about? We’re here to talk about the FLYING

CGI is a mainstay in hollywood. Like it or hate it, that is the present and the long future. Very rarely do we get a film that is done almost completely practically, but this is a special exception. The aerial sequences are breathtaking and believable, because they are REAL. Everything is done practically which to me is just incredible. There was something about knowing it was done real that elevated the experience for me. Real stakes and legitimate emotion on screen. You just don’t get that a lot anymore in blockbuster movie making. 

I have the utmost respect for every single member of the cast and crew that made this happen because if it was all CGI the magic wouldn’t have been as impactful.

Obviously none of this would have happened without our leading man, Tom Cruise. Yes, yes it’s finally time to examine why I believe Tom Cruise is the last true movie star in hollywood. 

The character arc of Mavericks is very similar to that of Tom Cruise’s career and his current status in Hollywood. The film is a look at age, the definition of a human’s prime and passing the torch to the next generation.

In Top Gun, Maverick is old, he’s been in the military for the longest time and is unable to let go. With the enhancements in technology, his occupation is on the edge of extinction. He is still the best at what he does, but when is the right time to hang it up? 

For Cruise in Hollywood, it’s a little bit different. He can continue to make movies for as long as he wants. He’s not being pushed out, but the industry as a whole is changing and changing fast. The standard summer blockbuster is being phased out in favor of large universe films like Marvel or Fast and Furious. And yes, I understand Top Gun Maverick is a sequel, but I don’t see a universe around the IP extending anytime soon.

Tom Cruise is the last movie star in Hollywood. When you think of a movie star you think Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio or more notably, Cruise. The names that would fill movie theaters and destroy box offices. Well, times have changed and instead of star power, big franchises are now the way of the land. You’d be stretched to find a film making a billion dollars at the box office that isn’t backed by a huge franchise.

But Cruise is an anomaly. I understand that I might be ruining the argument by using Mission Impossible as an example, but that franchise wouldn’t be what it is without Cruise and his willingness to both do his own stunts and continue to up the ante every single time. Sure Mission Impossible is a popular franchise, but WHY? It is a successful franchise because you can sit at the water cooler next monday morning and say “did you see what Cruise did in that new movie?” 

No other star does that. There is no other celebrity in Hollywood that gets you in the seats as well as Tom Cruise, and Top Gun Maverick is the newest example of that. This film is crushing the box office and is on pace to destroy Cruise’s previous best opening. People want to see our cast go through the trials and tribulations of actually being in a fighter jet, because no one else is doing that on film. But Cruise wouldn’t do it any other way.

When negotiating around the making of this film, Cruise had one stipulation, they had to do it for real. He as well as the rest of the cast had to actually be in the jets for filming. The cockpit shot has been perfected in CGI as of late, but Cruise needed it to be real, because that is his form of filmmaking. 

The thing that I really like about Cruise is his commitment to the audience experience. In the clip that played before my screening, he said he wanted us to truly feel like we were in the cockpit with the pilots. He wanted us to feel what it was like to be a Top Gun pilot, and because they did it for real, it actually felt real.

In the end Tom Cruise is a defender of film and the cinematic experience. It’s his way or the highway when it comes to accomplishing certain things for the viewer. While at times that may seem a little bit crazy, the results speak for themselves and why he is the last actor that will single handedly make you want to go to the movie theater. That is why he continues to put his body on the line to give the audience the most incredible experience on film that anyone has ever seen. 

One of the examples that is the most jarring to me is the infamous building jump in Mission Impossible Fallout where Cruise breaks his ankle. When you watch the behind the scenes you see that even though he severely breaks his ankle and is suffering lots of pain, he still finishes off the shot, because the shot is the most important thing, and you know they weren’t going for take two after that. 

In conclusion, while Leonardo DiCaprio is filming Killer of the Flower Moon for Apple Tv and Brad Pitt is filming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tom Cruise is getting in a goddamn fighter jet to give us one of the best blockbusters that I have seen in such a long time.

No doubt the other two are doing fantastic things and winning Oscars for said things. But there is only one true movie star left in Hollywood, and that is Tom Cruise. Eventually his time will come to hang it up, but for now, he has no plans for stopping.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 14
15 for Performances: 15
10 for Entertainment: 10
10 for Direction: 9
10 for Emotions: 10
5 for Cinematography: 5
5 for Score: 5
5 for Pacing: 4
15 for Technical: 15
5 for Rewatchability: 5
5 for Automatic: 5

Top Gun: Maverick: 97/100

Jack Lautaret is a Banana Meter approved film critic and Host of the Jack Lautaret YouTube Channel. He is a member of the Online Film and Television Association. Twitter: @JackLautaret

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