When Top Gun came out in 1986, it changed the way summer blockbusters were made and inspired a whole new aesthetic for how the U.S. military was shot—often at sunset and in silhouette. One could charitably suggest Michael Bay took his whole color palette from that movie. Yet much has changed since Tom Cruise last stepped foot in the cockpit, particularly Cruise himself. No longer a spring chicken, Top Gun: Maverick marks Cruise’s first legacy sequel to a previous classic. But what’s also changed is Cruise’s increased dedication to stunts… including in jets.
Following much in the footsteps of Cruise learning to fly a helicopter for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, one of the last legitimate movie stars and a whole new generation of co-stars are really going up in the skies in military jets for Top Gun: Maverick. Indeed, Paramount Pictures has even released a new video showing Cruise and company doing just that, as military advisors take them into the stratosphere.
In the below video you can see some actors struggle with G-Force speeds and rapid altitude acceleration. Even Cruise himself notably appears to struggle with maintaining his consciousness in the final stunt.
This is a fascinating look at how Top Gun: Maverick is being made and the different era it is coming out in. As you’ve likely seen in the previous trailers, the sequel is hinged in large part on nostalgia for the ’86 classic, shirtless volleyball and all. But when that movie came out, the appeal was just that magic hour afterglow with Cruise and a lady love (then played by Kelly McGillis, now Jennifer Connelly) rocketing along highways on a motorcycle. Now, however, a large part of the nostalgia is about seeing real stunts achieved by real actors in-camera.
In the age of superheroes and shared CGI universes, seeing an actor actually do it himself has a retro authenticity. And Cruise has met that challenge by doing stunts in his 2010s blockbusters he never would’ve attempted in the ‘80s: like being strapped to the side of a plane taking off in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation or doing what has been estimated as more than a hundred HALO jumps in Fallout.
Notably the Top Gun: Maverick marketing is leaving it ambiguous how much (if at all) Cruise is flying the jets himself, but that he is up there, and now with an IMAX quality camera in his face catching every distortion created by epic G-Force, comes off like a special effect even the original Top Gun would never touch.
Top Gun: Maverick will find its own danger zone when it opens on June 26, 2020.