Hey readers! I’m back with your Friday Film Forecast. This week I’ll be talking about Tony Scott’s 1986 film, “Top Gun.”
With last year’s reboot, I figured it was time to give this a watch. This ‘80s classic focuses on a group of students at a United States Navy flight school called “Top Gun.” The school is full of intense hands-on training and classroom lectures taught by one of the two women in the movie, Charlie, played by Kelly McGillis.
While I’m one to love classics, this movie was not my favorite. The film had some pretty engaging camera work, especially for the time period, but the questionable teacher-student relationship between Maverick and his instructor and the annoying “ladies’ man” trope – every man thinking every woman wants him – took away from what could have been a masterpiece.
The plot of the film focuses on the students and their training till graduation, with intense competition between classmates to make it out on top.
The lead, Maverick, played by the one and only Tom Cruise, and his counterpart, Goose, played by Anthony Edwards, added some entertainment to the film. Their friendship warms your heart and often leaves you laughing from their quick quips.
Val Kilmer, a favorite of mine from Martha Coolidge's 1985 film “Real Genius,” plays the anti-hero of the film, Ice. Kilmer's character is one of the more engaging parts of this movie, as he is more dimensional than most of the cast and holds nostalgia as 7-year-old me’s celebrity crush.
Ice is the so-called “villain” of the movie, but honestly, doesn’t really have a lot of bad qualities. He is often understandably annoyed by Maverick’s cockiness and rule-breaking danger he brings to the flight program. What really makes him the “antagonist” is he’s Mavericks biggest competition.
The plot felt like it was written for a high school-aged audience and did a poor job of maintaining my attention. However, the shots in the planes were anxiety-inducing and engaging — leaving me asking my boyfriend what was happening during every aerial shot.
One of my favorite elements of this movie is the homoerotic undertones, evident in Ice and Maverick’s lingering tensions, sexual dialogue exchanges between characters and the epic shirtless beach volleyball scene.
Another redeeming quality was the soundtrack, with hits like Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” Loverboy’s “Heaven in Your Eyes” and Academy Award-winning “Take My Breath Away” by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock carrying the film.
While yes, there were many good moments to “Top Gun,” the overall plot was a little hard to follow and honestly pretty boring. There were little to no major conflicts, and when there were, it was underwhelming and anti-climactic, leaving little time to process what happened.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics felt the same medium praise for the film with their critic rating of 58% as well as Letterboxd users' average score of 3.4 stars. “Top Gun” was clearly a big deal at the time of its release with three Academy Award nominations and one win, but over 40 years later, the film is rather average in my eyes.
With Meg Ryan’s hair deserving a whole star to itself, this week's forecast calls for a cloudy rating of three stars.
“Top Gun” is currently streaming on Paramount+ or available to rent on Amazon.
Elaina Johnson (she/her) is a fourth-year political science major who has previously copy edited and been editor-in-chief for The Front. This quarter she is the opinions and outreach editor. She hopes to make engaging stories this quarter and reconnect with the community through various outreach. In her free time outside of The Front, she can be found watching movies, writing chaotic Letterboxd reviews and drinking oat milk chai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.