Ironically, the early 1990s would bring to light the fact that carousing was what naval pilots seemed to do best: The 1986 Tailhook scandal occured during the same year Top Gun was released.
But in its day, Top Gun was nothing less than a pop culture phenomenon. Despite being nearly 20 years old, it's still #80 on the list of all-time U.S. box office champs -- ten spots ahead of The Matrix. All the hits that would follow owe a huge debt to Top Gun, as it was one of the first carefully manufactured blockbusters to hit an unsuspecting public. A then-not-too-shabby $15 million budget turned into $176 million at the box office, establishing Bruckheimer as a mega-producer, Tony Scott as a go-to direcctor, and Cruise as the most bankable star in the movies. Everyone involved with the film (Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Anthony Edwards, even Tim Robbins) owes a debt of gratitude to the production team -- but none more than Kelly McGillis, who made a single film of importance (1988's The Accused) after appearing in the lead here, rapidly squandering her incredible celebrity and falling into B-movie obscurity.
As for the movie, well, it's got everything, all crammed into one schizo film. Our heroes Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Goose (Edwards) -- those are their call signs, if you can remember their real names you should try to get on Jeopardy or something -- are chose to attend the Navy's #1 flight school, nicknamed "TOPGUN," where they encounter machismo-fueled rivalries with Iceman (Kilmer), angry officers (Tom Skerrit, Michael Ironside), and one improbably sexy instructor (McGillis), who Maverick woos from the moment he sees her. Alas, tragedy strikes midway through the film, sending Maverick into serious doubt and on many a motorcycle ride to work through his feelings. Meanwhile, proto-'80s music blares pretty much nonstop.
In the air, Top Gun offers one of the most interesting and well-made movies about the flying experience this side of The Right Stuff. In an age before computer effects, it's all real, and it's great fun to watch. On land, the love story caught the attention of many a teen girl, as Top Gun turned Cruise from "that cute guy in Risky Business" to a genuine megastar.
Top Gun remains a lasting and essential film in the history of the medium, but today its legacy is more of a punchline as an analogy for '80s overindulgence in action films and as a vehicle to be freely reinterpreted ("you can be my wingman anytime" became an infamous metaphor for gay love in Sleep With Me).
Now almost 20 years after its release, Top Gun can be reinterpreted by you to your heart's desire on a two-disc DVD. Disc one includes an exhaustive commentary track and music videos for four songs from the film, while disc two includes a lengthy making-of documentary plus a smattering of additional featurettes and storyboards.
Run time: 110 mins
In Theaters: Friday 16th May 1986
Box Office USA: $3.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $356.8M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 22
IMDB: 6.8 / 10
Director: Tony Scott
Screenwriter: Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr.
Starring: Tom Cruise as Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell, Kelly McGillis as Charlotte 'Charlie' Blackwood, Val Kilmer as Tom 'Iceman' Kazanski, Anthony Edwards as Nick 'Goose' Bradshaw, Tom Skerritt as Viper, Michael Ironside as Jester, John Stockwell as Cougar, Barry Tubb as Wolfman, Rick Rossovich as Slider, Tim Robbins as Merlin, Meg Ryan as Carole, Whip Hubley as Hollywood, Adrian Pasdar as Chipper, James Tolkan as Stinger
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