Review: Top Gun (1986)

Lemme tell ya a story: I’d never seen Top Gun, until today.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I had missed out on a ton of great films from the 80’s, and didn’t really consider Top Gun to be a priority case. I thought that I’d get there, eventually. Earlier, I saw it in my Netflix queue and thought to myself: “Ehh, I’ll give it a watch. It can’t be that bad!” And I was right! It was awesome, in that it was possibly the most 80’s a film can be, without ending up completely dated and schlocky. And it worked. It still worked, even for a person with no context, it worked. Well, it worked as well as it needed to. So let’s go!

Top Gun was directed by Tony Scott, and starred Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, and Michael Ironside as a military dude, as always. Seriously, does that guy ever play someone that’s not in the military? Outside Total Recall, of course.

Plot Summary (Courtesy of IMDb): As students at the United States Navy’s elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.

Yep, thassit. Pretty generic story, not much in terms of characters, the acting is serviceable, at best, and nothing is really all that unique. The flying would have to be really spectacular to make up for it. And boy, is it.

The stuntwork is fantastic, and the flying is spectacular. When watching this, you’re seeing real planes perform real maneuvers, and it shows. There’s no crappy ’80s green screening going on here, it’d be real obvious. When the film is up in the air, it zips by with aplomb. But when it gets grounded, the film slows to a crawl. The characters are uninteresting, with Maverick just being another interchangeable ’80s Tom Cruise character, and everyone else just being, well, nothing, really. The acting works fine, the dialogue’s unremarkable, but fine, and the charisma of the actors is really what carries the film forward through its rough patches. Without Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, this film would be dead in the air. But, luckily enough, it landed itself two charismatic ’80s stars who can sell anything. Well, Cruise can, at least. Kilmer can’t sell Batman. At all. But we’re not talking about Batman, we’re talking about Ghostrider.


The relationship between Maverick and Goose is really the best thing in the movie, character-wise. They bounce off each other well, and a certain dramatic event concerning Goose (no spoilers) is oddly moving for such a nothing character.

Everything else related to characters is flat and dull, unfortunately. The romance is unconvincing, with the only real reason why Charlie falls for Maverick being that Maverick is Tom Cruise, and it’s the ’80s, who wouldn’t fall for Cruise? It was before his Scientology freak-out. And before this:

Val Kilmer’s Iceman is pretty good as a rival to Maverick (trust me, I’ll probably have forgotten most of these ridiculous callsigns by the end of the week), but there’s not much there for Kilmer to work with, aside from a few good quips.

Most of Top Gun consists of cheesy romance, spectacular flying, and incredible ’80s music. Of these elements, only the first doesn’t work. And that’s pretty impressive. Here’s to Tony Scott’s best, A C+ film called Top Gun.

c plus grade

Welp, there you have it, my thoughts on a film probably none of you were thinking about, at all. Whaddaya think? Am I right, or am I wrong? Comment below, let me know! Be sure to check me out on Twitter @ThatOtherCritic, and I’ll see y’all on the next post. Bye!

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul S says:

    I agree Top Gun is entertaining specifically in respect of how cheese-filled it is. Double-bill it with Rocky IV and you get some of the best montages to the best/worst 80s music.
    Looking back 1986 was a great summer for fun movies what withTop Gun, Aliens, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Stand By Me and The Fly; and for a nice back to school treat, we got Blue Velvet in the fall.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is a great summer for movies!
      And thanks for commenting.


  2. swanpride says:

    I don’t hate Top Gun, but I don’t like it either. It doesn’t really work for me. I understand why others like the cheese, but it is far from being a truly good movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, whether one enjoys its strange mixture of cheese is really up to personal taste, it worked for me, but it’s still not great, or even very good.


      1. swanpride says:

        Yeah, there are a few movies like this out there…I wouldn’t even call them guilty pleasures because they do at least one thing really, really well.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay says:

    It’s so 80s!
    It does kind of make me wonder how people liked it so much at the time, before the cheesy nostalgia factor had settled in, but clearly they did. Fun review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m guessing a lot of its audience was ’80s 14-16-year old boys, and it does a good job at targeting that demographic. Just a guess, though, sometimes things happen without explanation.


  4. I love Top Gun because it is SO cheesy – the music, the hair, the epic bad lines (“Your ego’s writing cheques your body can’t cash”), etc. Fab stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My personal favorite line is “The defense department regrets to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid.” Classic Goose!
      Though I did see Mad Max (the original) before this, so I was constantly reminded of Steve Bisley.


  5. emmakwall says:

    Top Gun!!!! Another one I’ve not seen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s cheesy as anything, but I kind of like it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. emmakwall says:

        I need to watch it….Maverick.


        Liked by 1 person

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