The Need for Speed

Top Gun made aviation cool again. Not since the golden age of Hollywood has there been greater emphasis on fighter pilots. Top Gun was the highest grossing movie of 1986 and it launched the careers of several actors. Aside from its pop culture presence, I mostly watched Top Gun because it was the first major action role for Tom Cruise. My first viewing didn’t make me a fan until I gave it a second chance. Plane flying doesn’t excite me that much, but director Tony Scott does a great job shooting ariel scenes. Most of it is practical with real aircraft on loan from the U.S. Navy. Though I’m still confused about who exactly they were fighting in the air.

Cruise naturally works as cocky hot shot Navy pilot Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Complete with motorcycle and aviator shades. Anthony Edwards works just as well as his funny mustache wearing wingman Goose. When they screw up, Mr. Strickland awards them with enlistment in Top Gun. Though the flying is good, Top Gun is a victim of 80’s cheese. Maverick falls for his instructor Charlie played by a big haired Kelly McGillis. They have a very tonguey romance, but Top Gun is also known for its homoerotic undertones. Like the random sweaty game of shirtless volleyball. Val Kilmer shines as Maverick’s rival Iceman who thinks he’s dangerous before accepting him as a wingman.

The only real drama is Goose dying in a freak accident and Maverick coping with his past. Tom Skerritt plays Viper who knew his father and Michael Ironside plays another one of his instructor’s. Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan both got their big break playing wingman Merlin and Goose’s widowed wife Carole respectively. Top Gun has iconic quotes like “I feel the need… the need for speed!” and an awesome 80’s soundtrack. The main theme is practically synonymous with patriotism. There are small moments like Maverick and Goose singing “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin'” or “Great Balls of Fire” in a bar. Then there’s the badass “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins that gets played three separate times. Yet it was the love song “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin that won Best Original Song. Top Gun soars better than I remember.

Top Gun

“I feel the need… the need for speed!”

Followed by: Top Gun: Maverick

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