Compared to the original, this was Citizen Kane. Compared to an actual good movie? It was efficient; you could picture the checklist from which they wrote the script, and my wife kept knowing in advance which item on the list would be next. If you liked the first one, and as much as I hated it I know such people exist, you would like this one, as it plays expertly on the nostalgia of its fans. Even I was touched by Val Kilmer, but mostly I just felt like I'd been worked over.
There were a couple of oddities at the showing we attended, some three months after the movie had opened. First there was what amounted to a DVD extra, a short Behind the Scenes look at the making of the film that reminded me of how much I disliked the first one. That movie felt like an ad for Navy recruitment ... this promo recalled that, even featuring a current Navy man who said the first film inspired him to join. Then came a very quick promo with Tom Cruise, essentially thanking us for coming to the theater to watch his movie. The whole thing gave off an odd vibe ... why are we watching previews for a movie we are about to see?
I once wrote about Top Gun:
It works on the theme of bonding, but I'd argue not on the level of adult male bonding ... rather, the bonding between guys that goes on in the movie is a glorified version of what 12 year old boys imagine male bonding to be like. Rio Bravo is a movie about adult male bonding; Top Gun is a movie about early-adolescent bonding. Which would be fine if we were talking about Stand By Me, but in Top Gun, the characters are adults, so I'm not sure it accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Well, it took them a few decades and the aging of Tom Cruise, but the bonding here works better, not because a bunch of older guys connect ... the core characters are young Top Guns ... but because there is a more general feeling of looking back. This falls too quickly into nostalgia pandering, but especially in the scene with Val Kilmer, you actually believe these mature men have learned something about life.
The acting can mostly be summarized by saying they cast the film well. No one stinks, everyone fits their characters. Cruise and Jennifer Connelly have more chemistry than Cruise did with Kelly McGillis in the original. In the end, it's appropriate that I'm writing this long after the film came out and made its first billion dollars. No one needs to read what I have to say. If you wanted to see it, you knew that in advance, and those billion dollars tell us you most certainly did see it.