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‘Top Gun: Maverick’ offers high-octane action, nostalgia

CHENNAI: “Top Gun: Maverick” is not all action and high-flying antics — it has tender moments, poignant nostalgia and a touch of romance that make Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell endearingly humane. A sequel to Tony Scott’s 1986 “Top Gun,” a blockbuster that is said to have caused a spike in US military enlistment, this fresh take is sure to enrapture crowds once again.

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The film, which played at the just-concluded Cannes Film Festival, is enriched by the presence of a boyish and charming Cruise, who is a trained pilot and executed many stunts in the movie propelled by director Joseph Kosinski. The high-octane action is nail biting with daredevil maneuvers that are magical to watch.  

The sequel catches up with Maverick after more than 30 years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators. He is seen pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him, before a dangerous mission comes his way.

The narrative falls into a predictable pattern after that, but the flying — during the practice sessions and the actual operation — is exhilarating with the action sequences captured with clockwork precision by cinematographer Claudio Miranda. What is more, they look authentic — indeed, they are, for we are told Cruise is famously averse to CGI, opting instead to perform white-knuckling stunts himself. Production designer Jeremy Hindle got hold of old fighter jets and refurbished them to create believable and engaging action sequences.

Much of the runtime is confined to this, but when the film moves to a tender love story between Penny (Jennifer Connelly), who runs a local bar, and Maverick, we understand that he is not just obsessed with his planes. This plotline allows for a more nuanced version of the lead character to come to the fore, and the film is all the better for it.  

Kosinski and editor Eddie Hamilton, as well as the writers, are careful to keep the balance intact between this personal drama and the flying adventures. The score by Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga and Hans Zimmer also adds to the enjoyment quotient, with Lady Gaga’s song “Hold My Hand” of particular noteworthiness. But in the end, “Top Gun: Maverick” is all about death-defying action and miraculous escapes and will give cinema-goers a wild ride.

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