Review: Top Gun (1986)

The best pilots are chosen to learn advanced ‘dog fighting’ techniques at an elite flying school and compete to be the best of the best

With US Navy fighter pilots on high alert during the cold war, the best pilots are chosen to learn advanced ‘dog fighting’ techniques at an elite flying school and compete to be the best of the best.

This is going to be an easy review. Top Gun is brilliant.

With the energy, passion, cinematography, soundtrack, dialogue, emotion and romance, we think anyone would be hard pressed to find fault with this film. It became an icon of the 80’s, secured Tom Cruise a career as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and ensured Tony Scott became one of our favourite directors.

Maverick (Tom Cruise) is a cocky arrogant pilot who’s always getting into trouble. He’s the stereotype character that you know will do all right in the end once he’s been kicked in the arse a few times. He, along with his navigator Goose (Anthony Edwards), is chosen to attend the Top Gun Naval Flying School to learn advanced flying and dog fighting techniques and become the best naval fighter pilot in his class.

An easy enough task for a pilot as good as him, but then Charlie (Kelly McGillis), one of the school’s instructors, turns up and as we all know, women usually ruin things when men are trying to be macho.

It’s an action movie yes, but there’s a story that was the epitome of 80’s romance underneath, as Maverick and Charlie spar with each other in a will-they-won’t-they get together story line, that balances the machismo perfectly.

There are bromances galore for the most part but also an excellent rivalry between Maverick and Iceman (Val Kilmer), to keep the sense of competition alive, and when things don’t go to plan during a dangerous flight exercise the audience is pulled right into the emotion that leaves even the toughest bloke with a lump in their throat.

Characters and story aside, one thing that makes this film extra brilliant is the cinematography. Many times in movies with planes in them, you see a close up of a pilot through the window of his cockpit and you’d know they were really still on the ground. Not here, Tony Scott and Director of Photography Jeffrey L. Kimball worked hard to secure genuine naval pilots and F-14 jets to film some of the best aerial photography you’re ever likely to see.

Wow, the soundtrack too! We knew we’d get excited writing about Top Gun, but there are just so many cool things about this movie. You must get the soundtrack on CD as well. Featuring the likes of Berlin, Kenny Loggins and The Righteous Brothers, even if it wasn’t a soundtrack to a great movie this would still be a great album.

Top Gun is definitely a film everyone must see, it was an icon of the 80’s, it captures machismo, action and romance perfectly and to this day continues to take our breath away.

Best scene: Giving a Russian MIG Pilot the ‘bird’.
Best lines: “I feel the need… the need for speed!” and “Your ego’s writing cheques your body can’t cash.”

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