Welcome back to the danger zone. You might not think you needed a sequel to the most ’80s movie ever, butis way more wildly entertaining than it has any right to be. Top Gun 2 reboots the original film’s heart-pounding aerial action, infectiously cheesy character drama and don’t-think-too-hard-about-it military fetishism in a winning spectacle of cinematic escapism.
It’s been more than 35 years since the release of the original Top Gun, in which Tom Cruise employed his widest grin as a US Navy aviator with a point to prove and a childlike delight in playing with high-speed toys (which just happen to be built for killing people, but whatever). The sequel smashed over a billion dollars in theaters, and was released to digital Aug. 23, to be followed by 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on Nov. 1 (that’s your dad’s Christmas present sorted).
Cruise reportedly resisted a sequel for decades, but it turns out if you wait long enough, a story presents itself. He returns to the cockpit as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, still feeling the need for speed no matter what the top brass says. And now, enough time has passed since his co-pilot Goose’s death in the original film for Goose’s son to be a fully grown man.
Played by, the son is a chip off the old chock, flying with the Navy under the callsign Rooster. When Maverick is called in to train the next generation of cocky kids for a Dambusters-meets-Death-Star suicide mission, the pair are locked onto an intercept course. “And we’re off,” one character wryly observes of Maverick’s anti-authoritarian antics, but he could be talking about the full-tilt re-creation of the original film’s glossy thrills.
From the moment you hear the instantly recognizable tolling of the synth bell in Harold Faltermeyer’s stirring Top Gun Anthem, it’s like the past 30 years never happened. The opening credits describe Maverick, like the original, as a Don Simpson / Jerry Bruckheimer production, even though Simpson died in 1996. The opening text caption explaining the concept of the US Navy’s Fighter Weapons School uses the same wording as the first film. And throughout, directorand cinematographer Claudio Miranda faithfully re-create the late Tony Scott’s cinematic style, from a backlit bustling flight deck to ramrod-straight silhouettes arrayed in a hangar. This new version even begins by dropping you into…