Top Gun (1986)

Directed by Tony Scotts, Top Gun (1986) is a fun, adrenaline-pumping movie starring America’s former golden boy, Tom Cruise. Set against the backdrop of TOPGUN Naval Fighter Weapons School, the movie is a nationalistic tribute to the American army and sacrifices one makes for his country.

Tom Cruise plays Maverick, a headstrong and oftentimes reckless pilot who seeks thrills in the air due to his father disappearing at a young age.  He is part of the “one per cent chosen” to fly at Top Gun, where talented fliers learn how to improve their skills and win the title “Top Gun.” His best friend and fellow pilot, Goose (Antony Edwards), follows him there.

The film begins with the song “Danger Zone” (Kenny Loggins) which contributes to the nationalistic, pro-U.S., and pro-military themes in the film. The rest of the soundtrack is excellent too; it builds tension and dramatizes tragedy when necessary. Harold Faltermeyer composed the music with Steve Stevens on guitar.

Aside from the soundtrack, the love story between Maverick and Charlie (Kelly McGillis) is enduring and full of chemistry. Young Cruise has a confident swagger: his masculine character becomes the pinnacle of hyper-masculinity and bravery in the army. Yet, this movie is not your typical action movie with a background love story. Friendship is just as important throughout the film, as depicted via the bond between Maverick and Goose. The friendship is portrayed as natural with each actor bouncing off the other’s energy.

The script itself is filled with one-liners that are truly memorable. Iceman (Val Kilmer), playing opposite Cruise, is the perfect antagonist. The two have a complicated relationship throughout the film, yet their ability to work off one another is admirable. Each actor gives an incredible performance, thoroughly convincing us that they are actually in the midst of the drama surrounding TOPGUN. The story is captivating, using techniques of tension and humor to keep the audience interested. There is not a single moment where any character is underutilized nor underappreciated. Cruise shines as a rebellious thrill-seeker, almost foreshadowing his future roles in Mission Impossible. The cast is perfect and the soundtrack is both catchy and playful.

Top Gun is one of Tom Cruise’s best moments as an actor. It is a brilliant balance between what makes a movie timeless and what makes the audience’s heart pound. I would recommend watching Top Gun after a week at university as it is an extremely cathartic process. The movie will leave you begging for more of young Tom Cruise and romantic action dramas. It is a feel-good film to watch no matter your mood.