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The need for speed doesn't come cheap. According to a report from Bloomberg, the U.S. Navy charged the production of Top Gun: Maverick over $11,000 an hour for access to its F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets. It's no wonder why the final budget ended up at $171 million (via Collider).
Oh, and there was one other, non-negotiable caveat: Tom Cruise — who returns to play the role of hot-shot pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell — wasn't allowed to lay a finger on the controls. Sorry, but even the biggest movie star on the planet can't break strict Pentagon regulations, which forbid "non-military personnel from controlling a Defense Department asset other than small arms in training scenarios," writes Bloomberg. However, it should be noted that Cruise is no stranger to the world of aviation, having acquired his pilot's license in 1994 (via Newsweek).
If the cast wanted to enter what Kenny Loggins might call the "Danger Zone" (aka ride along with a trained F/A-18 pilot), they had to undergo mandatory training on protocols relating to emergency ejection and survival at sea. Cruise, who also produced the long-awaited sequel to the 1986 classic, was particularly adamant that every actor playing a member of the prestigious Top Gun program take to the skies in a Boeing-manufactured jet, "so they could understand what it feels like to be a pilot operating under the strain of immense gravitational forces." We'd expect nothing less from an actor known for his intense commitment to realism.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski (the filmmaker previously worked with Cruise on 2013's Oblivion), Top Gun: Maverick picks up in the present day where the titular aviator returns to his old stomping grounds for one last job: train up the next generation of Navy pilots for a dangerous mission abroad. Among this cocky crop of young recruits is Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick's late flying partner and best friend, Goose (Anthony Edwards). The character's tragic death in the original looms large over the sequel, acting as a major source of dramatic friction between Maverick and Rooster.
The film currently holds an incredibly fresh 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with the vast majority of critics agreeing that it improves on the original (directed by the late Tony Scott) in almost every conceivable way. Mission: Impossible writer-director Christopher McQuarrie shares screenplay credit with Ehren Kruger (Dumbo) and Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle). During a recent interview with The Project, Cruise admitted that Paramount Pictures was interested in making a sequel before Top Gun even opened nearly four decades ago. But it was eager fans who ended up convincing Cruise to revisit the action property.
"As time went on, every year I would release a movie [and] people would be like, 'What about Top Gun? Make another Top Gun!'" the actor said. "It didn't ebb. Now, it was generational. I'd be talking to three generations and I'd go home and think, 'Ok, what could I do?'"
Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Bashir Salahuddin, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis, and Ed Harris round out the ensemble cast.
Top Gun: Maverick takes off on the big screen tomorrow — Friday, May 27.