tek's rating:

Top Gun (PG)
IMDb; Paramount; Rotten Tomatoes; TCM; TV Tropes; Wikipedia

Okay, this came out in 1986, and it was a huge hit and basically made Tom Cruise a star. (Not that it was his first hit movie, but it was, I think, his first mega-hit movie.) I don't know when I first saw it, but I reckon it must have been sometime in the 80s, presumably on VHS. And then I didn't see it again until 2013, on DVD. I didn't really remember much about it (other than the line "I feel the need, the need for speed," which I was a bit surprised to only hear spoken once in the film, and it didn't seem particularly memorable, this time around). Anyway... it was a good movie, and pretty quintessentially 80s. I'm surprised to see, now, that it wasn't reviewed as well as I would have thought, judging by Rotten Tomatoes. I mean, I feel like it's a better movie than some critics seem to think, but at the same time, I feel like I didn't personally like it as well as it deserves to be liked. Um... also I should say it can be called an action movie, because there's some pretty badass flying in it, but mostly it seems to be a drama. (It has some really amusing bits as well, but not enough for me to label it a seriocomedy.)

Anyway, Cruise plays a Navy fighter pilot whose call sign is Maverick. Anthony Edwards plays his RIO (Radar Intercept Officer), Goose. At the start of the movie, they engage a couple of MiGs, along with a fellow pilot called Cougar. The experience rattles Cougar so much that he quits, which means Maverick is the new number one pilot on the aircraft carrier where they were stationed. So he and Goose get sent to a special training school for elite pilots, called Top Gun. Maverick... well, his call sign pretty aptly describes the kind of pilot he is. And Goose is, for the most part, comic relief, though he's also a good friend. And he's happily married and has a kid. (Now that I think of it, he kind of reminds me of Maes Hughes from Fullmetal Alchemist... in more ways than one.) Anyway, Val Kilmer plays another pilot called Iceman, who is Maverick's rival at Top Gun, but he's basically a good guy. And... there are various other pilots of no importance to me. And a couple of instructors; one called Viper, played by Tom Skerritt, and one called Jester, played by Michael Ironside.

Almost immediately after going to Top Gun, Maverick hits on a woman in a bar, though he basically crashes and burns. But the next day he learns that she is a civilian expert instructor at Top Gun, named Charlie. She's very interested in his encounter with the MiGs, and before long they fall in love. So their relationship is a big part of the movie's drama. But there's also Maverick's friendship with Goose, his rivalry with... well, everyone else... and some personal demons based on the mysterious disappearance of his father, when he was a kid. (His dad was also a great fighter pilot, whom Viper had once served with, coincidentally.)

And I don't really feel the need to reveal any more of the plot. Honestly, it's not a great movie, and I don't know if I'll ever feel the need to watch it again. But it was definitely good. The flying was good, the drama was good, the characters were good. Oh, and the music was good. Most notably "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins; you cannot think of this movie without thinking of that song, and vice versa. And I guess that's all I have to say. Oh! Except for the fact that Maverick flew an F-14 Tomcat, which is why when Tom Cruise married Katie Holmes, many years later, I totally dug their shipping name, TomKat.


drama index
tek's nostalgia