By: Nick Gambino

In 1986, a little movie released by Paramount Pictures became a worldwide phenomenon and broke box office records week after week, raking in well north of $100 million. The success of that film spawned an unlikely sequel. That movie? Crocodile Dundee.

While the fish-out-of-water story was the #2 movie of the year, this is the story about the #1 movie of 1986 and its sequel 36 years in the making. Say it with me now. “I feel the need…the need for” Top Gun: Maverick!

In an era when most big budget films are a product of established IP, you would think Tom Cruise would have cashed in on the sequel to the first blockbuster of his career years ago. But the megastar simply doesn’t roll that way. If he did, we’d have seen Jerry Maguire 2: You Still Complete Me and A Few More Good Men by now.

Other than his ongoing Mission Impossible installments (which seem to just get better and better, defying any known laws of movie sequel physics), Cruise doesn’t look back, only forward. There have been rumblings of a Top Gun sequel for years with a promise to only engage thrusters if the script was right.

After losing Tony Scott, the director of the original film, in 2012 it seemed like the sequel was a no-go. Then like a phoenix from the ashes, they announced a greenlit sequel after finally cracking the story with Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion) and Christopher McQuarrie (Mission Impossible: Fallout).

Top Gun: Maverick was filmed pre-pandemic starting in May 2018, but the release was delayed multiple times as Cruise refused to allow it to be released anywhere but theaters. Once it was safe for us all to go to the theaters, it soared to the big screen on Memorial Day weekend 2022, almost 4 years after principal photography commenced.

The pre-buzz hype was immense, driving people in droves to their local theaters. And the film did not disappoint. An amazing cast, tight story, thrilling aerial stunts (all shot practical, mind you) and a Lady Gaga theme song helped turn Top Gun: Maverick into an undeniable phenomenon.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of the original or not, the movie stands on its own. While it’s steeped in plenty of nostalgia, it doesn’t depend on cheap tricks to get you. I went with a group of friends, two of which could care less about the original, and they were blown away.

It’s one of those rare movies that has people of all ages and demographics returning for multiple viewings. I’ve seen it twice, as have many of my friends. My brother is going for the record, having now seen it four times. After his recent viewing, he texted me, “Still soooo gooood.” Multiple o’s, so you know he means it.

Top Gun: Maverick is meant for the big screen. It was made for that experience. Do yourself a favor – head to the theaters, grab some popcorn and prepare yourself to go Mach 10 with your hair on fire.