That’s how long fans have been waiting to see Maverick blast back into the sky for a Top Gun sequel.
The 1986 cult action film was so popular that it earned a place on the National Film Registry and played a major role in launching the career of a then-bright Tom Cruise.
While diehard devotees may say you can’t improve on the original, if the critics’ reviews prove anything, the follow-up may have.
Ahead of Top Gun: Maverick’s May 26 release, review aggregator sites are already showing stratospheric scores for the sequel.
Camera IconTom Cruise plays Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun. Credit: Scott Garfield/Scott Garfield
Rotten Tomatoes gives a positive rating of 96 percent, while Metacritic shows a Metascore of 81, indicating “universal acclaim”.
In the new edition, Cruise is back in the cockpit as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, who, despite his 36 years of service, refuses to be grounded due to a rank advancement.
Val Kilmer also reprises his role as Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky. At the same time, Miles Teller is a recruit as Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Maverick’s late best friend, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw.
A handful of the film industry’s most respected critics gave Maverick a perfect five out of five stars, including Empire, The Telegraph, and BBC.
They agreed it surpassed the original for its soaring sequences and slick performances, with Collider critic Ross Bonaime going so far as to call it “one of the best sequels ever made”“.
“It’s also hard not to say that this has arguably one of the most exciting action sequences ever on the air, and Cruise gives one of his best performances by returning to the role that made him a star,” he wrote.
BBC’s Nicholas Barber agreed.
“The new film is an improvement on the old one in every way,” he wrote.
“The story is smarter and catchier; the dialogues are sharper and funnier, the relationships are richer, and the aerial stunts are more likely to make you nauseous. In many shots, the actors are clearly in the planes, and while they may not be the pilot, they’re being flung around at stomach-turning speeds.”
Camera icon Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun: Maverick. Credit: Scott Garfield/AP
Director Joseph Kosinski received much acclaim for taking the mantle of the late Tony Scott for the sequel and giving the action a “visceral” and “joyful” feel.
But the biggest applause was reserved for Cruise, with some tipping him for an Oscar nod.
“Despite the man’s constantly odd personal life, no action star working today requires the quality Cruise demands,” wrote NY Post critic Johnny Oleksinski.
And from Empire’s Ian Freer: “(Cruise) does a great job of preserving Maverick’s spirit and swagger while keeping it all tasteful and age-appropriate. Thirty-six years later, his conviction is still breathtaking.”
A sequel to Top Gun has been long in the works, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant production delays.
But the final cut seems to have been worth the wait, with box office predictions expecting Maverick to be one of the year’s highest-grossing films.