Top Gun (1986)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking movie, visuals hold up well, I have the need...the need for speed!!!

Poor script, bad pairing of McGillis and Cruise

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Top Gun

Studio:  Simpson/Bruckheimer

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Drama/Romance/War

Release Date(s):  May 16, 1986

MPAA Rating:  PG


A vote for Maverick is a vote for America!!!

Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) and his co-pilot Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) have just moved up to Top Gun…the United States Navy Strike Fighters Tactics instructor program at Naval Air Station Miramar.  There Maverick finds himself head-to-head with the best-of-the-best, including Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) and his co-pilot Ron “Slider” Kerner (Rick Rossovich) who have labeled him a danger to those who fly with him.  Maverick is chasing his past and a father who disappeared on a covert mission.  When he begins a romance with a civilian instructor named Charlotte Blackwood (Kelly McGillis), things begin to change for Maverick.  When tragedy strikes, will Maverick be able to get back in a plane and be a graduate of Top Gun?


You know you’re the real star

Directed by Tony Scott, Top Gun was a sensation upon its release and became the number one film of 1986.  The movie cemented Tom Cruise as a star and despite receiving mixed criticism became a phenomenon.  The movie’s soundtrack is one of the top selling soundtracks of all time and the “Take My Breath Away” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (Top Gun also received nominations for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, and Best Music).


Ugh…get me off this motorcycle…

Top Gun was a monster when it came out.  The movie had something for everyone with big action and a sappy romance.  The movie was part propaganda and part cooler than cool display of the power of the F-14 jets used in the film.  The movie managed to boost recruitment for the Navy (by estimates of 500%) and also became one of the first big VHS sellers by lowering the price of the movie by having a Diet Pepsi commercial before the film (a revolutionary idea at the time).  It also increased the sale of Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses and bomber jackets.

Top Gun has surprisingly held up well.  The visuals of the film from the sunrise opening on the aircraft carrier to the desert dogfights to the final battle at the end look fantastic…the reason is the military involvement and the fact that it is pre-CGI stuff so it had to be done for real.  There are some hiccups in the presentation like the obvious reuse of missile footage for the dog fight (they only had two missiles they could fire and had to get multi-angle versions of the shots), but for the most part the movie stands strong on this end.


Yeah, I’m dangerous…why don’t you say it four of five more times…ok, I was joking

Where the movie fails is where the movie failed in the first part.  The script and dialogue for Top Gun are awful.  Be it the horrible wooden line “I didn’t want everyone to see I’ve fallen for you” in the most unromantic pairing of Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis (in their defense their scenes were boosted when test audiences wanted more romance) or the fact that Val Kilmer virtually had one line “You’re dangerous Maverick” and just reworded it throughout the movie, the movie struggles to find much of a story…Maverick’s struggle with Goose’s death is so cliché ridden and some of the “having fun scenes” like the volleyball scene seem so forced…you pretty much just want them to get in the jets and start fighting.  Despite mostly bad dialogue, the movie has one of the best and usually voted memorable lines “I have the need…the need for speed!!!” (Ok, I do love that line).


Yeah…I’ve got the need for Diet Pepsi right now!

Tom Cruise is likeable as Maverick and shows his early acting charm, but as mentioned his pairing with Kelly McGillis feels rocky.  Meg Ryan as Anthony Edward’s wife adds some spark but she’s so obnoxiously loud in her scenes that it is hard to focus and Tom Skerritt has some very nice scenes as Maverick’s mentor and father-figure replacement.  Val Kilmer didn’t want to appear in the movie (he was obligated by contract), but “Your Dangerous” Iceman had some decent moments near the end of the film.

Top Gun was one of those movies that people went to see multiple times in the theater.  A sequel was planned for years and then planned again recently until the death of Tony Scott.  Top Gun did make resurgence by being released in IMAX in 3D in 2013 and also on a nice cleaned up Blu-Ray…It might have some lows, but Top Gun soars high when it soars.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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