‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rocks with finesse, style and genuine emotion

Maverick” announces in no uncertain terms that it feels the need … the need to wring every nostalgic smile, cheer and teardrop it can from fans of the 1986 original.

Like the hyper-competent aces at the story’s core, this is a movie that defines its lane early and sticks to it with finesse, unfussy style and more than a few sneak attacks of emotion.

Pete is called back to the Top Gun aviator school in San Diego, where he’s tasked with teaching a new class of elite pilots to fly a tactically impossible mission.

He’s brought his daddy issues with him, this time in the form of lingering guilt over the death of his best friend Goose and the fact that one of his students is Goose’s bitter son Bradley

Bradley’s call sign is Rooster, which we learn in a raucous barroom scene introducing the brand-new batch of swaggering stick jockeys

the volleyball scene is now a football game – shirtless in some cases, but also including a female pilot

As a producer, he has wisely taken the nearly 36 years in between “Top Guns” to steward the property with care and intelligence, resulting in a movie that feels familiar and new in just the right proportions.