DIRECTOR: Tony Scott
May Contain Spoilers!
Released on this day back in 1986, Top Gun has become a household name and made Tony Scott’s career. But is this the most iconic movie of the 1980’s? Is this Tony Scott’s best film? Well, it was his third movie, it was iconic and it does scream the 1980’s, but it’s not quite his best work. That honour would have to go to Man On Fire (2003), but this is damn close. Inspired by his own SAAB advert in which a car is racing a fighter jet, Top Gun is an adrenalin fuelled ride through the U.S. Navy’s top flight school, Top Gun, teaching their best pilots to be even better.
Tom Cruise would always be associated with his character here, Maverick who may be the best but his impulsive attitude may one day get someone killed. It’s straight up, pull no punches machismo gone mad, with music video montages taking centre stage as we watch what is essential a paint by numbers rock video movie as it goes through its paces.
But one thing which gets me about this, is the strangely chauvinist approach to the feminism here. Kelly McGillis is a flight instructor in a man’s world, whilst falling head over heals for Maverick (Cruise) and once establishing herself as a tough cookie, spends the rest of the movie wearing his flight jacket, swooning over him like a 17-year-old cheerleader!
Then there’s the strongly suggested homoeroticism and the creepy and almost sleazy portrayal of Iceman by Val Kilmer, the actual crowned Top Gun (Spoiler!!). The film is famous for so many reasons and works on so many levels but it has to be Anthony Edward casting, certainly in the 1990’s after E.R. started, of the ill-fated Goose, who’s ironic and poignant death is a stand-out moment in the film.
But that’s the charm of this one, it makes little sense but it’s tried to send out the right messages without preaching. The speeches and anecdotes are hammy and brash and the overall tone is something out of a World War Two recruitment film but it works, and it works well.
The tone is striking, the metaphors are ham-handed and the plot is simple and easy-going. Perfect for anyone on so many levels, with excellent flight photography, a light-hearted approach to complex cold war politics and a feel which simply embodies the 1980’s, Top Gun is a true classic in the strictest sense of the word.
Since 1986, Top Gun 2 had been mooted and it was finally given the go ahead last year, with the late Tony Scott scouting locations with Cruise just two days before his death. But following the director’s tragic suicide, the project has now rightly been cancelled, Paramount instead opting for the 3D conversion of the original which ran for just six days back in February, and it is now available on Blu-ray 3D.
Top Gun is an 80’s movie which is very much of its time, but transcends its era as do others such as The Wizard Of Oz (1939) and Casablanca (1943). Yes, you heard, I’ve just compared Top Gun to Casablanca! And it’s true.