Top Gun (1986) – Tony Scott

The 101 Action Movies brings this flag-waving American classic back into my life.

With Tony Scott’s typical super colour-saturated framing, quick editing, fantastic rocking score, Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise), struggled to prove his the best of the best at the fighter pilot school known popularly as Top Gun.

Tons has been said about this film over the years, not all of it kind, but I’ve always had a place in my heart for it, simply because of the experience I had in watching the film.

I was living in Bermuda at the time, and made regular jaunts to the nearby American base to watch the first run films they screened there for a whopping $2.

So let me say that again, the first time I saw Top Gun, was on an American base with a bunch of Naval officers. Can you conceive of the adrenaline and machismo that was not only coming off the screen, but being sent right back to it as the entire audience whooped and cheered? It was a pretty heady experience. The entire theater was PACKED! I didn’t even get a seat, I was sitting on the stairs leading up to the projection booth, every bit of space was filled with folk who wanted to see how they were being portrayed on the screen.

cruisekellyOf course, the Navy actually let the film shoot on location, at Miramar, and had a lot of influence on the film as they wanted to make sure they were shown in the best light possible. They saw it as a recruitment film, a propaganda piece, and a huge bucket of popcorn entertainment.

And that is exactly what it is, yes, there are some fine actors backing Cruise up, Kelly McGillis as his love interest, Anthony Edwards as Goose, his RIO (Radar Intercept Officer), Val Kilmer as Iceman, Tim Robbins as Merlin, James Tolkan as Stinger, and Captain of the Enterprise, Meg Ryan as Goose’s wife, Tom Skerritt as Viper and the always cool Michael Ironside as Jester, but the film is really about one thing only…

The planes, and the aerial photography.

Both of which are stunning! From the first leap off the deck to the final dogfight, the aerial photography is front and center and looks stunning. Sure, a few minutes into the film my fellow film-goers were yelling at the screen that those weren’t MiG-28s but were in fact F-5s, (they also called bull on the inverted sequence, but roared happily at the maintaining of foreign relations) but you better believe they were cheering and hooting when they blasted those nasty Russkies out of the sky at the end of the film.

icemavTop Gun doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t, it’s a glossy, fast-paced bit of film making that isn’t big on story, with a bit of romance shoe-horned in, and a kick ass soundtrack, which along with the Lost Boys soundtrack, got a lot of play on my walkman as I was whipping along the roads to work on my moped.

If you’ve never seen it, don’t expect too much from the story, Edwards steals scenes from Cruise every chance he gets, but the planes and the way the actors on cockpit sets are cut into the action, are still some of the best I’ve seen.

It’s loud, a no-brainer, and yes, still, undeniably fun.

It was pretty sweet to fly back into the Danger Zone.

Do you remember when you saw this movie?


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