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Top Gun (1986)

If you survive the noise, the moronic script, the ego-trip smirking of the actors, and the nauseating sound track, you might just live long enough to discover that beneath the gloss and the beat and the posing for pinups, Top Gun has only one message:

A bunch of illiterate kids are flying the US government’s $36 million defence planes, and they’re doing it all to rock and roll.

Top Gun is nothing more than a lot of music videos strung together aimlessly as an expensive excuse to produce a hit album.

Oh, sure. There’s a lukewarm attempt to tell a cliché riddled story swimming around among the jet blasts and the synthesizers.

“Top Gun” is the nickname of the fighter-weapons school in San Diego, established by the US Navy to train the top 1% of its fighter pilots.

The guys have names like Cougar, Maverick, and Goose. You’ve met them all before, in countless fly-boy movies that are far superior to Top Gun.


Tom Cruise is Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell – A super-cool pint-sized pilot with so much nerve he can guide another frightened pilot onto the aircraft carrier just by talking. Maverick is a wild card, unpredictable, flying “by the seat of his pants.”

“I feel the need, the need for speed!” cries Maverick.

But, in addition to a need for speed, Maverick and his fellow flyboy hunks also seem to have the need for sweaty homoerotic beach volleyball . . .

At Top Gun school, the fliers are thrust into competition for the big trophy. Maverick breaks the rules, poses risks for the other fliers, and arrogantly seduces his flight instructor, played by Kelly McGillis.


Naturally, everybody hates him, except the drooling teenage girls in the audience, who don’t know an F-14 from a Colt .45 . . . and don’t much care, as long as Tom Cruise keeps taking his clothes off.

That’s about it. The rest of the film consists of a series of competitive flying sequences with an assortment of pretty boys in the cockpit who look like models for Calvin Klein underwear, facing different dangerous challenges each time out of the hangar.

topgun_036When they aren’t blazing through the sky in their F-14s to eardrum-splattering Dolby stereo, they’re visiting the base disco to eardrum-splattering Dolby stereo.

There are endless lectures on negative-G pushovers and weight ratios, and a great deal of French kissing.

Finally, the moment of truth . . . When his best friend dies in a mechanical failure, Maverick feels responsible and loses his self-confidence. Will Maverick throw in the gym towel, or go for it?

There’s never any suspense about which option he’ll choose. The dumb script, by Jim Cash and Jack Epps, telegraphs every emotion and every event before they happen. There’s nothing for the audience to do but sit back and fight off the headaches.

Top Gun is a subject (and a film) of limited interest and practically no appeal to anyone over fourteen, except collectors of Tom Cruise beefcake calendar centrefolds and gullible teenage boys flocking to San Diego to enlist in flying school, praying their instructor from the Pentagon will look like Kelly McGillis.

Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
Tom Cruise
Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood
Kelly McGillis
Tom “Iceman” Kazansky
Val Kilmer
Nick “Goose” Bradshaw
Anthony Edwards
Commander Mike “Viper” Metcalf
Tom Skerritt
Dick “Jester” Wetherly
Michael Ironside
Bill “Cougar” Cortell
John Stockwell
Henry “Wolfman” Ruth
Barry Tubb
Ron “Slider” Kerner
Rick Rossovich
Sam “Merlin” Wills
Tim Robbins
Evan “Sundown” Gough
Clarence Gilyard Jr
Rick “Hollywood” Neven
Whip Hubley
James Tolkan
Meg Ryan
Adrian Pasdar
Lieutenant Davis
Randall Brady
Air Boss Johnson
Duke Stroud

Tony Scott