Top Gun (1986)

top gun imax


Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) attends the Air Force’s top flight school, Top Gun, along with his flying partner Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Antonio Edwards).  Along the way he becomes romantically involved with Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood (Kelly McGillis).  He also competes with another top pilot, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer).   During one of his training missions, Maverick and Goose’s plane stalls and they have to eject, however, Goose breaks his neck slamming into the canopy as they are ejecting.  Maverick blames himself, though ultimately he recovers and returns to old form as the Top Gun.

Top Gun has been re-released for a very limited showing, one week to be exact, in which they’ve made it into 3-D and are also showing in IMAX theaters.  I went and saw it today with my father-in-law, and I must say, if you’re a fan of the film, go see it.  Go see it in IMAX if that’s an option.  I’m not normally an advocate of 3-D movies, I find they add very little other than some nice depth-of-field.  However, with a film like Top Gun, it adds a lot when that depth-of-field involves planes…in the air…dog-fighting.

Top Gun is one of those movies you either really like or you just flat-out can’t stand.  I for one really like it, but can understand the criticisms it’s received.  For a film shot in the mid 80s, I think Tony Scott and crew did a great job with the dog-fighting  in flight footage.  However, there were a few times that it’s clear that scenes and footage was repeated. Goose was apparently in the back of the cockpit in the final battle when Merlin (Tim Robbins) should have been there.  It’s more a minor critique for me.

Cruise and Edwards have great chemistry.  That doesn’t seem like much of a surprise, though, considering the relationship they have with one another and their history.  They’re different enough, though, as Goose has a wife and boy, and Maverick deals with his dad’s bad reputation (if only a perception) and the constant need to prove himself and push the envelope.  Maverick and Charlie’s relationship is fun to see develop, and Charlie’s genuine concern for Maverick after Goose’s death is touching.

As great as most of the minor characters were, my personal favorite was James Tolkan, the hard-nosed, no-nonsense Commander “Stinger.”  He’s one of those guys that just has stage presence, something I’ve talked about a number of times throughout these reviews. While he is primarily known for this role and as “Strickland” in the Back to the Future franchise, he’s the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to cross.  I wonder how he is in real life.  He might be a fun person to be around.

A lot of the juvenile antics the pilots take part in is funny, but at times I think it’s a little much.  It seems like a very light-hearted movie, though I think they could have gone into a lot more depth with Maverick’s back story and some of the psychological aspects of his relationship with his dad.  I like what Roger Ebert said of the film, “movies like Top Gun are hard to review because the good parts are so good and the bad parts are so relentless.”

While the aerial visuals are definitely top-notch, especially for its time, I would have enjoyed this movie more if they’d gone a little more in-depth with the other aspects of the story.  Nonetheless, Top Gun is a fun movie to watch, and it’s appeal, critical success, and aerial visual effects make it worthy of being a must-see movie.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.


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