Top Gun: Maverick is a 2022 American action drama film directed by Joseph Kosinski and written by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie from stories by Peter Craig and Justin Marks. The film is a sequel to the 1986 film Top Gun. Tom Cruise reprises his starring role as the naval aviator Maverick. It was based on the characters of the original film created by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. The film also stars Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris and Val Kilmer, who reprises his role as Iceman. In the film, Maverick confronts his past while training a group of younger Top Gun graduates, including the son of his deceased best friend, for a dangerous mission.
Development on a Top Gun sequel was announced in 2010 by Paramount Pictures. Cruise, along with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Tony Scott, were asked to return. Craig wrote a draft of the screenplay in 2012, but the project stalled when Scott died later that year. The film was later dedicated to Scott's memory. Production resumed in 2017 after Kosinski was hired to direct. Principal photography which involved the use of IMAX-certified 6K full-frame cameras, took place from May 2018 to April 2019 in California, Washington and Maryland. An initial release date was scheduled for July 12, 2019, but it was delayed several times due to the complex action sequences and the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, several streaming companies attempted to purchase the streaming rights to the film from Paramount, but all offers were declined on the orders of Cruise, who insisted the film be released exclusively in theaters.
Top Gun: Maverick premiered at CinemaCon on April 28, 2022 and was theatrically released by Paramount Pictures in the United States on May 27, 2022, in IMAX, 4DX, ScreenX, and Dolby Cinema. The film was acclaimed by critics, with many calling it better than the original. It won Best Film from the National Board of Review and was also named one of the top ten films of 2022 by the American Film Institute. The film was nominated for six awards at the 95th Academy Awards (including Best Picture), winning Best Sound and received numerous other accolades. It grossed $1.493 billion worldwide, making it the second-highest-grossing film of 2022 and the highest-grossing film of Cruise's career.
Plot: More than 30 years after graduating from Top Gun, United States Navy Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell is a test pilot. Despite many achievements, repeated insubordination has kept him from flag rank; his friend and former Top Gun rival, Admiral Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, now commander of the Pacific Fleet, often protects Maverick. Rear Admiral Chester "Hammer" Cain plans to cancel Maverick's hypersonic "Darkstar" scramjet program in favor of funding drones. To save the program, Maverick unilaterally changes the target speed for that day's test from Mach 9 to the final contract specification of Mach 10. However, the prototype is destroyed when he cannot resist pushing beyond Mach 10. Iceman again saves Maverick's career by assigning him to the Top Gun school at NAS North Island for his next assignment, but Cain tells Maverick that the era of crewed fighter aircraft will soon be over.
The Navy has been tasked with destroying an unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant, located in an underground bunker at the end of a canyon, before it becomes operational. It is defended by surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), GPS jammers and fifth-generation Su-57 fighters as well as older F-14 Tomcats. Maverick devises a plan employing two pairs of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets armed with laser-guided bombs, but instead of participating in the strike, he is to train an elite group of Top Gun graduates assembled by Air Boss Vice Admiral Beau "Cyclone" Simpson.
Maverick dogfights his skeptical students and prevails in every contest, winning their respect. Lieutenants Jake "Hangman" Seresin and Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw—son of Maverick's dead best friend and RIO Nick "Goose" Bradshaw—clash: Rooster dislikes Hangman's cavalier attitude, while Hangman criticizes Rooster's cautious flying. Maverick reunites with former girlfriend Penny Benjamin, to whom he reveals that he promised Rooster's dying mother that Rooster would not become a pilot. Rooster, unaware of the promise, angrily resents Maverick for dropping his Naval Academy application—impeding his military career—and blames him for his father's death. Maverick is reluctant to further interfere with Rooster's career, but the alternative is to send him on the extremely dangerous mission. He tells his doubts to Iceman, who has terminal throat cancer. Iceman advises that "It's time to let go" and reassures him that both the Navy and Rooster need Maverick.
After Iceman dies, Cyclone removes Maverick as instructor following a training incident in which an F/A-18F is lost. Cyclone relaxes the mission parameters, so they are easier to execute but make escape much more difficult. During Cyclone's announcement, Maverick makes an unauthorized flight through the course with his preferred parameters, proving that it can be done. Cyclone reluctantly appoints Maverick as team leader.
Maverick flies the lead F/A-18E, accompanied by a buddy lazing F/A-18F flown by Lieutenant Natasha "Phoenix" Trace and WSO Lieutenant Robert "Bob" Floyd. Rooster leads the second strike pair, which includes Lieutenant Reuben "Payback" Fitch and WSO Lieutenant Mickey "Fanboy" Garcia. The four jets launch from an aircraft carrier and Tomahawk cruise missiles destroy the nearby air base as they approach. The teams destroy the plant, but the SAMs open fire during their escape, as anticipated. Rooster runs out of countermeasures and Maverick sacrifices his plane to protect him. Believing Maverick to be dead, the others are ordered back to the carrier, but Rooster returns to find that Maverick ejected and is being targeted by an Mi-24 attack helicopter. After destroying the gunship, Rooster is shot down by a SAM and ejects. The two rendezvous and steal an F-14 from the damaged air base. Maverick and Rooster destroy two intercepting Su-57s, but a third attacks as they run out of ammunition and countermeasures. Hangman arrives in time to shoot it down and the planes return safely.
Later, Rooster helps Maverick work on his P-51 Mustang. Rooster looks at a photo of their mission's success, pinned alongside a photo of his late father and a young Maverick, as Penny and Maverick fly off in the P-51.