The much anticipated Top Gun: Maverick is about to hit the big screen, and critics are already raving about the quality of the flight scenes.
Tom Cruise is famous for his commitment to realism, frequently performs his own stunts, and even broke his ankle while filming Mission Impossible in London in 2018.
But does the daredevil do his own flying? Here’s everything you need to know.
What can we expect from the new Top Gun?
Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is back and is still feeling the need for speed. His bosses have him in their line of fire, but he remains the best navy test pilot around and commands respect from his flying colleagues.
There is a seemingly impossible mission to blow up an Iranian uranium enrichment plant and Maverick is dispatched to train up an elite team of graduates for the task.
Expect some breathtaking aerobatic displays which, judging by the critics and not entirely surprisingly, outstrip those of the original.
Geoffrey Macnab, writing in i , said “the aerial photography is every bit as spectacular as you would expect”.
The sequel, he adds, “defies cynicism and confirms Tom Cruise’s status as Hollywood’s ‘mission leader’ when it comes to blockbusters”.
Deadline Hollywood praised the film saying it “tops the original in every way imaginable” adding it is “an example of Hollywood filmmaking at its zenith”.
The original Top Gun was released on 16 May, 1986 and went on to become one of the most famous films of the 80s.
In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, deeming it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Is the flying real?
Cruise is well known for doing his own stunts, and he has built that reputation through decades of action films such as the Mission Impossible and Jack Reacher movies.
“People had asked for a sequel for decades,” Cruise told the PA News service. “And the thing I said to the studio from the beginning was: ‘If I’m ever going to entertain this, we’re shooting everything practically. I’m in that F/A-18, period.”
The cast of Maverick underwent serious training in how to cope in the air, meaning the footage you see is in fact real, not CGI.
The course was developed by Cruise, lated three months, and included tuition in underwater evacuation, aerial aviation and flight itself.
They were also prepared for the dynamic pressures of G-force.
They started in single-engined planes, moved on to a Czech-designed jet trainer called the Aero L-39 Albatros, and then the F-18 Super Hornet.
Miles Teller, who plays ‘Rooster’ the son of ‘Goose’ from the original film, explained: “We trained for this for a long time, Tom had us in a flight programme for several months before we ever started filming.
“But it was never something you really ever got, like, super comfortable with, at least for me. It was something that every time I went up, it really tested me and I felt like I wanted to puke pretty much every time.”
The team also learned to operate cameras and about cinematography as they were essentially filming themselves up there.
But were they actually in control of the aircraft?
Despite this training the Navy did insist on having trained officers at the controls of the F-18 Super Hornet, which is worth £56m.
Glen Roberts, the chief of the Pentagon’s entertainment media office, said a regulation bars non-military personnel from controlling a Defence Department asset other than small arms in training scenarios.
Instead, the actors rode behind F/A-18 pilots, and external shots are of trained Navy pilots.
Cruise, who has been a licensed pilot since 1994, did fly a P-51 propeller-driven fighter plane and a few helicopters for the movie.
The planes aircraft carriers and military bases are also real locations.
Who else stars in the Top Gun: Maverick?
The cast includes:
- Tom Cruise as Captain Peter “Maverick” Mitchell, a test pilot
- Miles Teller as Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw
- Jennifer Connelly as Penelope “Penny” Benjamin
- Val Kilmer as Lieutenant Tom “Iceman” Kazansky
- Jon Hamm as Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson
- Ed Harris Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain
It was directed by Joseph Kosinski and written by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and long-time Cruise collaborator, Christopher McQuarrie.
Top Gun: Maverick is dedicated to the director of the original Top Gun, Tony Scott, who died in 2012.
Lady Gaga has co-written Hold My Hand, the lead song for the sequel’s soundtrack’s.
Those who remember the original Top Gun will recall its big hit song was Berlin’s You Take My Breath Away. It won an Oscar for Best Original Song.
When is Top Gun: Maverick released?
It is set for release in UK cinemas on 27 May.