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By Asharq Al-Awsat
Cast member Tom Cruise attends the global premiere for the film Top Gun: Maverick on the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, California, US, May 4, 2022. (Reuters)

It took Tom Cruise 36 years to head back to the danger zone, and movie critics said Thursday it was worth the wait to see "Top Gun" back on the big screen.

The sequel to the 1986 blockbuster, called "Top Gun: Maverick," earned a 96% positive rating from 76 reviews collected on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

The film is set to debut in cinemas on May 27.

In the movie, the 59-year-old Cruise reprises his role as Pete Mitchell, the cocky Navy pilot who has never risen through the ranks because of his penchant for bucking authority. Mitchell, whose code name is Maverick, is asked to train a group of young fighter pilots for a specialized mission.

Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press called the new film "a textbook example of how to make a sequel."

"The movie satisfies with one foot in the past by hitting all the touchstones of the first film," Kennedy said, "and yet stands on its own."

Box office analysts project the movie will rank as one of the biggest box office hits of the summer. It had been scheduled for release in June 2020, but distributor Paramount Pictures delayed the release multiple times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice Pro, estimated that ticket sales would hit $100 million over the Memorial Day weekend in the United States and Canada. That would make it the highest-grossing debut of Cruise's career.

The actor is promoting the movie at events around the world. At a premiere in San Diego, he made a grand entrance by piloting a helicopter onto an aircraft carrier. Next week, he will attend a screening at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

Critics said the movie offers thrilling flight scenes, an emotional story and strong performances by the supporting cast, including Miles Teller, who plays the son of Goose, Maverick's partner who died in the original film.

But most of the praise was showered on Cruise.

"It's a fresh-faced gloss on the original ... powered, like the original, by a star who'll simply never stop being a star," wrote K. Austin Collins of Rolling Stone.

Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly said the movie "belongs in almost every scene to Cruise."

"At this point in his career, he's not really playing characters so much as variations on a theme - the theme being, perhaps, The Last Movie Star," she said. "And in the air up there, he stands alone."

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Dive Deeper:
Top Gun: Maverick – ‘miraculous’ Tom Cruise hailed in first reviews of ‘preposterously exciting’ sequel
The first verdicts on the long-awaited Top Gun sequel Top Gun: Maverick are in – and fans have reason to…
Top Gun: Maverick – Tom Cruise flies high in long-awaited sequel that defies low expectations
IT WAS, let us not forget, a breathtakingly stupid film. Flashy as a parlour poodle, mired in power pop, Tony…
Top Gun: Maverick review – Tom Cruise is still speedy, less needy in a rock’n’roll sequel
Cruise presides over some surprising differences from his first outing as the navy pilot hotshot in a film that’s missing…
Top Gun: Maverick review – Tom Cruise soars in a sequel that’s as thrilling as blockbusters get
There’ll need to be a reckoning over the film’s politics and its treatment of women, but for now... we fist-pump
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Top Gun: Maverick review – Tom Cruise soars in a sequel that’s as thrilling as blockbusters get
There’ll need to be a reckoning over the film’s politics and its treatment of women, but for now... we fist-pump
Tom Cruise banned booze on set of new Top Gun movie to keep co-stars in shape
Tom Cruise felt the need for speed in the new Top Gun movie and if anyone wanted to be his…
Get all your news in one place