Over 30 years after he first took moviegoers on that highway to the danger zone, Tom Cruise is back in the pilot's seat for TOP GUN: MAVERICK. The sequel to 1986’s TOP GUN features several familiar faces and is set to take us on another high-velocity, action-packed thrill ride.
Before Cruise’s Maverick takes flight again, let’s take a closer look at this highly-anticipated and long-awaited sequel. We’ll try our best to answer any burning questions you may have about TOP GUN: MAVERICK based on everything we know so far.
The first TOP GUN: MAVERICK trailer opens with a jet tearing across a desert landscape as we hear a man, in voiceover, rattle through a list of military achievements. It’s obvious that the pilot in the jet is Tom Cruise’s Maverick, and the voiceover is referring to him: “You can’t get a promotion. Won’t retire. Despite your best efforts, you refuse to die.” Even if you aren’t familiar with the original TOP GUN, this description sounds awesome, and before you see his face, this sounds exactly like a classic Tom Cruise action hero.
What follows is a series of intriguing and awesome shots featuring Cruise. These are calculated to remind us of the first movie: Maverick puts on his old jacket, picks up his famous aviator sunglasses, races a motorcycle down a runway, and pilots a jet through the mountains. The trailer ends as Maverick is told: “Your kind is heading for extinction.” Naturally, he replies, “Maybe so, sir. But not today.” Wow! We’re sold.
Okay, first things first for all the classic TOP GUN fans out there: Obviously, Tom Cruise is back to reprise his role as Captain Pete Mitchell, aka Maverick. (That’s his military callsign.) Cruise isn't the only familiar face returning for the sequel, however.
Val Kilmer is also back as Tom Kazansky, aka “Iceman,” once Maverick’s top competitor at the Top Gun naval training academy. Kilmer actually campaigned for his return on social media, convincing director Joseph Kosinski to bring the actor back for the sequel, in which Iceman has achieved the rank of Vice-Admiral.
The cast of TOP GUN: MAVERICK is mostly made up of actors who weren’t in the original film, with a blend of younger stars and beloved vets alike. Miles Teller plays the lead role. (Billed after Cruise, of course.) He's a pilot trainee named “Rooster,” who has a unique connection to the original film. Teller is joined by a whole roster of new pilot recruits: Glen Powell (EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!), Lewis Pullman (BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE), Monica Barbaro (“UnReal”), Manny Jacinto (“The Good Place”), and Jay Ellis (“Insecure”).
Rounding out the ensemble are Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”), as a three-star vice admiral, Ed Harris as a two-star rear admiral and Maverick’s superior (that’s him giving Maverick a talking-to in the trailer), and Jennifer Connelly as Maverick’s new love interest – a single mom who owns a local bar.
TOP GUN: MAVERICK is set 34 years after the 1986 original, and things have really changed in the world. As in real life, the military has come to rely more heavily on drone warfare, so there’s less need for human pilots to risk their lives up in the skies.
One thing hasn’t changed much in the last few decades: Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. In all that time, Maverick hasn’t retired or gone out for a promotion, even as he increasingly struggles to find a place in a world that doesn’t seem to need him. When Maverick is relieved from active duty, he’s sent to become a flight instructor at his former academy, where a new batch of recruits are feeling the need for speed.
The new crew includes pilot trainee Bradley Bradshaw, aka Rooster. Played by Miles Teller, Rooster is a hotshot pilot, not unlike Cruise’s Maverick. He also has a very special connection to the original film, which you might’ve already guessed based on his last name. Rooster is the son of Nick Bradshaw, aka Goose, played by Anthony Edwards. Goose was Maverick’s RIO, or Radar Intercept Officer, who died in the 1986 movie. When Maverick takes his new post as a flight instructor, he encounters Rooster, and for the first time in a long time, Maverick must confront his past – but will he ever change?
For many years, TOP GUN: MAVERICK was being developed by the late Tony Scott, who directed the original film. Some time after Scott's 2012 death, Cruise regrouped with his OBLIVION director, Joeseph Kosinski, to make this sequel. Kosinski is as much of a fan of planes and flying as Cruise is, and their shared interest is evident in the trailer. We see several shots that show Cruise in actual fighter jets, skimming along at low altitudes and flying in tight formations. It seems like the star is carrying his MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE filmmaking style forward into the new TOP GUN movie, and we're all for it!
All images courtesy of Paramount Pictures.