Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: contains coarse language
Tom Cruise as LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
Kelly McGillis as Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood
Val Kilmer as LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky
Anthony Edwards as LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw
Tom Skerritt as CDR Mike “Viper” Metcalf
Director: Tony Scott
As students at the United States Navy’s elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.
Classic 80s movie Top Gun is getting a sequel titled Top Gun: Maverick, released over a few decades after the original’s release. It has been a while since I had watched the first movie, so I was interested in revisiting it before the newest film’s release. I wouldn’t say that it is great but there’s a lot to like about it
Despite this movie being about dogfighting and fighter pilots, Top Gun is less of an action movie and more of a coming-of-age film. Most of the actual flying is just done in training, real combat only happens in the third act. The writing isn’t anything special, the script is definitely formulaic, and I didn’t find the story to be all that thrilling or compelling. While I wouldn’t say that I was bored watching it, the story is a bit dull. I think the biggest criticism I have for Top Gun is that it feels more like a collection of memorable scenes more than a greatly cohesive movie; the plot didn’t have much direction or drive. The characters didn’t stand out for me but they were likable enough. When the drama appears, it really comes out of nowhere and is melodramatic but it works for the 80s vibe. Speaking of which, the 80s cheese factor helped a lot of the movie, it made some of the weaker and over the top elements work better for me.
There are some solid performances. Tom Cruise plays the lead character of Maverick in one of his early iconic roles. I wouldn’t say its one of his all-time best performances by any means, but it is definitely one of his most recognisable characters. Cruise is charming and fun to watch, while also giving some depth and development to his character. The chemistry and bromance between Maverick and his friend Goose (Anthony Edwards) was very convincing. That’s more than I can say between the romance between him and Kelly McGillis’s character, which could be more than a little cheesy at times, but again the 80s vibe made it sort of work for me. Generally, the rest of the cast are decent enough.
Tony Scott’s stylish direction is one of the best parts of the film, it’s not one of Scott’s best but it is well made. The cinematography is great, and the dogfighting action sequences are beautifully shot. There aren’t as many of these action scenes as you’d initially think, but they are staggered out so they have us wanting more. The soundtrack is pure 80s and wonderfully enjoyable (even if it’s a little repetitive at points).
If you were to make a list of the top 5 most iconic 80s movies, Top Gun would be right up there. There are definitely some issues with the writing and characters, and I wouldn’t call it great. However, there’s a real charm to it, and I can see why it became something of a cult classic. The cast led by Tom Cruise are solid, it’s well directed by Tony Scott, and the action sequences are entertaining. I do think it is worth checking out at least once.