Even before a single scene from “Top Gun: Maverick” unspooled at the film’s Cannes premiere on Wednesday night, festival-goers made it clear that they think Tom Cruise is magnifique.
The actor received a thunderous ovation after he was presented with a “surprise” Palme d’Or, one that genuinely seemed to take him off guard. He had received another ovation after making some spirited introductory remarks.
It was an extravaganza that included the appearance of eight fighter jets bellowing red, white and blue smoke behind them as Cruise and other members of the film’s cast looked on from the red carpet below. Those colors are featured prominently in both the French and American flags, in a fitting piece of symmetry.
It served as the culmination of a day celebrating the enduring star wattage of Cruise, one that also included a “Master Class” with the actor. At both the event and the premiere, attendees were treated to a montage of his greatest hits, from “Risky Business” to “Mission: Impossible.”
But it was a celebration that had been a long time coming. “Top Gun: Maverick” was slated to debut in 2019, before special-effects worked resulted in a push back to 2020. Then, COVID hit, scrambling those plans, at least for awhile.
“This is an incredible evening and an incredible time .. just to see everyone’s faces,” Cruise said from the stage of the Palais. “It’s been 36 years since the first ‘Top Gun’ and we’ve had to hold it years for the pandemic.”
Cruise then called on the cast, which included Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, and Jon Hamm, and Paramount’s executive team to stand up, as the audience cheered.
“This movie was a dream,” Cruise said. “We talked about it when filming. I just want to see everyone’s faces. There’s no masks and we’re in a movie theater. I’m going to take this all in and I feel very grateful. We’re here for you. I make all these movies for all of you and I’m very blessed to do what I do. Enjoy this evening. You all have made my life.”
The festival crowd joyously interacted with the film during the screening, cheering and gasping at stunts. An overwhelming response came when Val Kilmer, who starred as Cruise nemesis Iceman in the original film, appeared in a scene with Cruise. The screening ended with a five-minute standing ovation from the crowd.
Earlier, Cruise worked the crowds of fans along the red carpet, who had braved the blazing hot sun to glimpse the actor, posing for selfies and signing autographs.
“Top Gun: Maverick” debuts in the U.S. on Memorial Day. It has already scored rapturous reviews and is expected to be among the summer’s biggest blockbusters.