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12 Best Movies Like Top Gun: Maverick That Fans Should Watch Next

Pulling off a compelling reboot or sequel of a beloved '80s movie can be a difficult feat. First, you have to win over those who think there shouldn't have been another film made in the first place, and then there's the challenging task of playing into nostalgia while also giving viewers something new and fresh. Despite all of these odds stacked against it, "Top Gun: Maverick" pulled off the near-impossible — creating a decades-later sequel that's as good, if not even better, than the original. Celebrated by critics and fans alike, the 2022 reboot is a marvel of action filmmaking. It manages to play up the 1980s feel while also taking the action sequences to new and thrilling heights.

With the dedicated Tom Cruise at the helm, perhaps it's not all that surprising that the film was such a success. After all, Cruise is known for his commitment to doing his own stunts and his love of movie magic. Tom Cruise may be one of our last true American movie stars, but luckily, "Top Gun: Maverick" isn't the only high-flying, adrenaline-pumping action movie out there for you to watch. Moviegoers have long had an obsession with airplanes and other high-speed vehicles, making them ideal subjects for action cinema. If you've already watched "Top Gun: Maverick" but are still feeling the need for speed, then you're in the right place. Keep reading to discover all the best movies you should watch next.

Days of Thunder

"Days of Thunder" may not be about fighter jets, but it does star Tom Cruise as a cocky adrenaline junky who loves racing cars. The 1990 Tony Scott film finds Cruise as Cole Trickle, a rookie race car driver who thinks he's hot stuff. Cole is mentored by veteran pit chief and car builder Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall), who does his best to humble Cole. When Cole gets in a near-deadly accident during a race, his confidence is shaken, and he must build himself back up in order to beat the devious Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes). Meanwhile, Cole finds himself falling for a beautiful doctor (Nicole Kidman, in her first starring role with Cruise).

"Days of Thunder" is so similar to the original "Top Gun" that Collider once called it the "secret "Top Gun" sequel. Indeed, both films are directed by Tony Scott and star Cruise as a belligerent rule-breaker with something of a death wish. While Maverick may have calmed down slightly by the time the events of "Top Gun: Maverick" roll around, he's still the same Maverick deep down, just like Cole, who never really changes all that much. Despite the over-the-top quality of the film and the arrogant nature of Cruise's character, it's hard not to be charmed by its ostentatious energy. To make matters even more thrilling, the film has a wonderful, synth-heavy score by the great Hans Zimmer, who also scored "Top Gun: Maverick." It's nothing but cheesy, delicious fun.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Apart from his role in the two "Top Gun" movies, Tom Cruise is probably most well-known for playing Ethan Hunt in the "Mission: Impossible" series. Hunt is a government operative who often has a contentious relationship with the secret agency for which he works –- sometimes he's working with them, sometimes he's working against them. One of the most well-regarded films in the series is the sixth in the franchise, entitled "Mission: Impossible – Fallout."

Though every film is filled with high-octane action and riveting stunt work, "Fallout" takes the action to new heights and does so with a lot of style. This time around, Hunt and his team partner up with the CIA to stop a terrorist from launching nuclear attacks around the world. Along the way, Hunt encounters his ex-wife, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), who finds herself in the line of fire.

Cruise's stunt work in the film is just as impressive as in previous installments, and some of the action in "Fallout" actually prepared him for his return to "Top Gun." There's an amazing stunt in "Fallout" that involves Hunt piloting a helicopter, and the difficulty of the scene was illuminating for Cruise. He told BBC Radio 1 that his intention to make the stunts even bigger in "Fallout" laid the groundwork for his work on "Maverick." The breadth of the technology and the action needed to be amped up a notch, Cruise explained. "You can see in 'American Made' and 'Fallout,' I'm developing the technology. I'm thinking about it," he said.


Almost the entirety of the film "Ambulance" takes place in a high-speed vehicle, but it's not a fighter jet. The vehicle in question is, of course, an ambulance. The Michael Bay blockbuster is an action thriller that doesn't let up for its entire 2-hour runtime, which is why "Top Gun" fans might want to give it a shot.

The film follows Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), brothers who team up to pull off a massive heist so Will's wife can pay her medical bills. When there's a major snafu in their plan, they hijack an ambulance that's transporting a wounded cop (Jackson White) and a steely EMT (Eiza González), finding themselves on a high-speed chase through the streets of Los Angeles.

If you liked the teeth-clenching action sequences in "Top Gun: Maverick," you're gonna love the nonstop thrills of "Ambulance." Michael Bay is a master of the action flick, and he shows off his skills with this deceptively simple premise. Though an ambulance-racing film may not seem like a recipe for big-budget action, Bay packs the film with plenty of explosions and other cinematic tricks, including some thrilling drone sequences. Don't sleep on this one.

Apollo 13

You may already know the story of Apollo 13, but the 1995 film of the same name makes a great case for why the story deserves re-telling. The Ron Howard movie follows astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton), and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) on their mission to land on the moon. Everything is going well until an oxygen tank explodes, and the moon landing is aborted. Things only go downhill from there as various technical problems threaten the survival of those on board.

There's nothing like an edge-of-your-seat space movie, and "Apollo 13" absolutely delivers on that front. Like the events of "Top Gun: Maverick," many of the choices made in "Apollo 13" are life or death decisions that will have you sweating from the safety of your couch. The cast of the film do an incredible job enacting this extreme tension, and it's especially shocking to see America's dad, Tom Hanks, fight for his survival thousands of miles from Earth. Even if you already know how the film will end (and especially if you don't), "Apollo 13" rivals "Top Gun: Maverick" in the stress-inducing department.

First Man

Neil Armstrong and Pete Maverick may seem like pretty different people, but they do have a few things in common. The most obvious similarity is that they're both pilots, but they also have in common a fierce desire to be the very best at what they do. Armstrong's personal journey is the central focus of the 2018 film "First Man," which stars Ryan Gosling as the famous astronaut.

Though it's ostensibly a movie about space travel and the first successful moon landing, "First Man" is also a character study about one of our American heroes. As with "Apollo 13," viewers already know how this story ends, so the film attempts to take us inside of Armstrong's head as he prepares to become the first man on the moon. Though he's not as brash and unpredictable as Maverick, Armstrong is just as willful and determined, and it's hard for him to let other people in.

Armstrong was famously one of the least chatty NASA astronauts so a film of this nature is a challenge to pull off, but Gosling and director Damien Chazelle do their best to take us where no man has gone before –- inside the heart and mind of Armstrong himself. In a way, "Top Gun: Maverick" is also a character study about its titular character, and these films actually make a pretty good pairing when you consider them as meditations on the trap of American masculinity.

The Right Stuff

The 1983 film "The Right Stuff" chronicles a period of American innovation that's not frequently discussed. Based on a non-fiction novel by Tom Wolfe, the film looks at the first 15 years of America's space program. The movie tracks the unprecedented accomplishments of the Mercury astronauts, including John Glenn (Ed Harris) and Alan Shepard (Scott Glenn), as well as test pilot Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard). These astronauts were attempting incredibly dangerous feats during a time of great political turmoil, and "The Right Stuff" is an effort to depict just how spectacular their achievements really were.

Yeager and the Mercury astronauts are men Maverick would've admired –- they were conquering new frontiers, risking their lives every time they launched themselves into the unknown. The three-hour epic is a satisfying, romantic, awe-inspiring look at how these space cowboys dealt with the pressure of it all, emerging on the other side as true American heroes.

As Adam Nayman writes in The Ringer, "Where '2001: A Space Odyssey' depicted astronauts (and mankind) as being at the mercy of some higher, alien intelligence, 'The Right Stuff' finds its characters imposing their will on the unknown." It's exactly this type of willful determination that will likely inspire and invigorate "Top Gun" fans, along with anyone else who loves a riveting true story.

Blue Thunder

The 1983 film "Blue Thunder" follows a principled police officer who confronts corruption and faces off with the perils of new technology. The film stars Roy Scheider as Frank Murphy, an LAPD officer and Vietnam War veteran who's chosen to test out a new advanced attack helicopter known as Blue Thunder. Murphy and his rookie partner, Richard Lymangood (Daniel Stern), soon discover the helicopter is meant to be used for surveillance, crowd control, and suppressing large-scale instances of civil disobedience.

While piloting the Blue Thunder, Murphy begins an investigation into the death of a city councilwoman and discovers large-scale corruption within the U.S. government. Murphy suspects the man behind the corruption is Colonel F.E. Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell), an adversary of his from the war. Murphy sets out to expose the conspirators while trying to protect himself and other civilians from any more harm.

"Blue Thunder" is an audacious action flick, but sadly, it isn't that well-remembered today. It's an excellent action hero vehicle for the always lovable Roy Scheider, who proved his widespread appeal in films like "Jaws" and "The French Connection." The stunts in "Blue Thunder" may not be as impressive as in "Top Gun: Maverick," but the questions it poses about military technology are just as compelling today as they were back then.


Christopher Nolan's 2017 film "Dunkirk" is a military epic, which, thankfully for those with short attention spans, clocks in at under 2 hours. The film tells of the events of May 1940, as German troops advance into France. When Allied soldiers become trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, a mission is launched to evacuate the stranded troops. British and French forces provide air and ground cover while hundreds of thousands of grounded troops are slowly rescued using every vessel that can be found. 

"Dunkirk" is definitely a spectacle, but it has enough heart that the journey is a gratifying one. The special effects in the film are astounding, and the performances of the film's ensemble cast –- which includes the likes of Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Hardy –- hit all of the right emotional notes. Even if historical war movies aren't your thing, it's hard not to be overcome by the scale of human bravery on display here. "Dunkirk" may not have a cheesy pop theme song or a catchphrase, but it does have a swelling score by the great Hans Zimmer and enough riveting action to keep you engaged for every minute of its runtime.

The Tuskegee Airmen

Based on true events, the 1995 film "The Tuskegee Airmen" tells a story that's often left out of military history. A TV movie that originally aired on HBO, the film follows the first all-African-American Air Force unit to fight during World War II, a group known as the Tuskegee Airmen. The film focuses on Hannibal Lee (Laurence Fishburne), a young pilot with big dreams. Though white officers are initially hesitant to accept Black pilots, they eventually deploy Lee along with Billy "A-Train" Roberts (Cuba Gooding Jr.), Walter Peoples III (Allen Payne), and Lewis Johns (Mekhi Phifer).

In the months and years that follow, the Tuskegee Airmen have success after success, building a reputation as one of the most capable groups of pilots in the service. The film is sprinkled with cliches, but it's an undeniably moving story buoyed by sensitive performances and a stirring narrative. While the school Maverick attends in the first "Top Gun" movie is in fact be a real academy, Maverick's macho posturing isn't nearly as historically significant as what these pilots accomplished. If you want some historical education with your sky-high action, this might be the movie for you.

Air Force One

"Air Force One" is an action thriller set almost entirely on an airplane. As you might be able to guess by the title, the plane in question is in fact Air Force One, one of the official planes used to transport the president of the United States. The president in the film is played by none other than Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford. The film begins with President James Marshall giving a speech in Moscow declaring that he will never negotiate with terrorists. In an ironic twist of fate, his flight home is hijacked by a group of Russian terrorists, and his declaration is put to the test.

Marshall's wife (Wendy Crewson) and daughter (Liesel Matthews) are also aboard the plane, making it even more important that Marshall outsmart the terrorists. Luckily, unbeknownst to Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) and his crew, Marshall is a former military officer with a Medal of Honor, and he just might have what it takes to come out on top. Instead of leaving in an escape pod with his wife and daughter, Marshall hides in the cargo hold in order to mount his own rescue mission. Oh, and did we mention the vice president is played by Glenn Close? If watching badass president Harrison Ford outfox some terrorists aboard a plane is your thing (which, why wouldn't it be?), then be sure to add this one to the queue.

Independence Day

"Independence Day" is obviously a movie about an alien invasion, but it's also –- and this is important –- a movie about a group of heroic pilots. The events of the film are as follows: On July 2, 1996, aliens invade Earth and send saucers over 15 major cities. President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) orders evacuations of the affected cities, but it's too late. The saucers fire beams into the cities, killing millions instantly.

A lot more people die, and Whitmore's nuclear attack fails. When tech expert David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) creates a computer virus to disable the alien shields, Whitmore realizes their only hope is to mount a counterattack. They contact all the remaining pilots from around the world, including Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) and retired fighter pilot Russell Casse (Randy Quaid). Whitmore, a former fighter pilot himself, even joins the fight. One of the most successful films of the 1990s -– it became the second-highest grossing film of all time following its release -– "Independence Day" ushered in a new era of Hollywood blockbusters and is often seen as the precursor to the big-budget sci-fi and disaster movie resurgence in this decade.

Apart from the obvious pilot connection, "Independence Day" has another link to "Top Gun: Maverick." Bill Pullman's son, Lewis Pullman, stars as the reserved Lieutenant Robert "Bob" Floyd in "Maverick," a role his father helped him prepare for. "I always run everything by him before I start a job, and he always delivers me gold," the younger Pullman told The Hollywood Reporter.


Picture this — an unmanned train filled with toxic, explosive chemicals blasts out of the train station, barreling through rural Pennsylvania and threatening to crash at any moment. There's only one man who has any hope of stopping the train and that man, of course, is Denzel Washington. Sound familiar? That summary describes the plot of the 2010 film "Unstoppable," which was directed by Tony Scott, the man behind the first "Top Gun" film. There's not really much more to the plot than what we've just described, but it's a riveting, totally satisfying thriller that's well worth your time.

Washington plays Frank Barnes, a veteran railroad engineer who's being forced into retirement. Frank is paired with Will Colson (Chris Pine), a new hire having marital troubles. Frank and Will encounter the out-of-control train, and Frank decides to go after the locomotive despite threats from his boss. Meanwhile, yardmaster Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) attempts to divert the train so no one gets hurt, all while dealing with underhanded demands from the head honchos at the railroad company. One train and one Denzel Washington –- who do you think will come out on top?

The premise of "Unstoppable" is incredibly simple, but it's executed with technical perfection. Washington has a typically weighty presence in the film, and it's gratifying to see his humble character prove his heroism. It may not have the soaring stunt work of "Top Gun: Maverick," but it's a thoroughly successful film and a worthy final picture of the late Tony Scott.