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Top Gun: Maverick (12A, 131 minutes)

Two years late because of the pandemic and 36 years after the commercial, if not critical, success of its predecessor, Tom Cruise returns as high flyer Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in another blockbuster US Navy recruitment campaign.

I’ll admit I’m probably the wrong person to review this apparently long awaited sequel as I only lasted 25 minutes into the first one (up to the point where little Tom and the bloke from ER start singing You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling) that’s when I decided that life was too valuable to waste another second on such a testosterone overdosed fist pumping Team America: World Police template without the puppets – or the satire, or the self mocking hilarity.

Mitchell is a walking cliché, maverick by nickname and by nature having spent 30 odd years dodging the promotions that would have grounded him to be a test pilot for experimental military jets..

And what better stage for him than a summer blockbuster which is itself a cliché from the school of Tony Scott take offs and landings to the silhouette high fives with the sun towardss the camera. The only thing missing is an Independence Day Bill Pulmanesque president saying he belongs in the air.

Maverick returns to his old stomping ground to train a group of pilots with nicknames as daft as his, because, as we all know, little Tom Cruise can save the world

But a lot has changed since 1986 – like two Gulf wars, al Qaeda, ISIS, the break up of the Soviet Union and Putin’s campaign to rebuild it to name but a few skirmishes.

Some things, however, haven’t changed at all from the 80s – such as the disturbing use of women as little more than eye candy.

Whereas the threat in the first Top Gun was nameless but of course inferred because there was only one really, today you can take your pick so it’s little wonder that a nation which considers gung ho to be part of its DNA should have made this visual onslaught to its heart.

As much as I like a Cruise action film with death defying stunts (which have long ago overtaken his appeal as merely an actor), outside of the USA, I would like to think that some of us require a little more than empty spectacle to entertain us.

There’s more substance to Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man clicking his fingers than there is in two hours plus of these silly fly boys playing who’s got the biggest.

Regardless of the edge of your cockpit seat set pieces created by a cast that Cruise insisted went through intense pilot training, Top Gun: Maverick is basically just the American equivalent of a Mayday march through Red Square and every bit as pointless.

RATING: 4/10

Mick Ferris

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