Greetings and welcome back aboard the LightTrain: “Exploring the Realms of Film”. I’m your conductor and today we’re going to go over Top Gun, released in 1986 and directed by Tony Scott. Now, Top Gun‘s sequel, Maverick, was originally slated for release this summer but has since been moved. We’ll cover that one in the future but for now let’s look back into the Danger Zone and analyze Top Gun, Let’s get this show on the road!
Set at the Naval Air Station Miramar, we follow the emotional resolutions of the young aviator Pete Mitchell, call name “Maverick”. Additionally are Nick Bradshaw, call name “Goose”, Mitchell’s friend and Radar Intercept Officer; Charlie Blackwood, Pete’s romantic interest, and LT Tom Kazansky, call name “Iceman”, his aerial rival. Will Maverick’s ghosts continue to haunt him? Will he manage to win the TOPGUN program?
Let’s get the bad elements out of the way first. The dialogue and emotional story beats mostly trip over themselves, with not much buildup and folding up with disappointing conclusions. It’s not that the ideas are bad, just the execution could’ve been more of a slow burn. Some scenes I felt could be removed and it wouldn’t effect the plot like the out-of-place volleyball sequence. It’s honestly a predictable, bland serving of oatmeal. Now, I like oatmeal myself, but definitely not the unseasoned sludgy sort that represents Top Gun. Long story brief: avoid scenes of interaction.
All of the above are rather minor stains on the big picture, however some stains like this one have the apparent faculty to leave one sour. This is referring to the romance between Kelly McGillis as Charlie and Tom Cruise as the titular Maverick. Their interactions with another have as much emotion and feeling as two androids out for a sub or something (if androids could eat subs, that is). Utterly hollow and kind of pointless. A good subject I took in regard from a video essay suggested that romantic arcs are similar to original musical numbers in movies in that, when handled well they can remarkably elevate the picture or sink it’s own ship. I’m sure you know what Top Gun‘s arc fits into.
Ok, let’s actually get to the positive points which the film does indeed have. The performances were all spectacular when you thin a majority of the lines out, with kudos to the extremely young Tom Cruise as Maverick, Kate McGillis as Charlie, Val Kilmer as Iceman. My particular favorite actor though was Anthony Williams whom played Pete’s friend Goose. Reflecting back to a paragraph ago, when Goose and Maverick both suffer from a terrible loss (which is how I’m going to word it for those who haven’t seen Top Gun) I was never really saddened by it, providing proof on my point that it’s emotional half is a mess.
Finally, the aerial scenes. Brilliant. The way they are meticulously choreographed to properly show the jets movements in a clean matter is masterful, and I applaud it. The camera manages such great shots that the audience can define each ships placement, which is no easy feat when lazy filmmakers would just swish and flip the camera everywhere, which only blurs the entire setting.
So in the end, yeah, Top Gun is one side a sloppy and beat-for-beat recreation of varied cliches; the other a stunning visual dogfighting experience. I appreciate the crew for trying to have substance, even when it weighs the film down immensely. It kicks off with a smooth takeoff before it jettisons and jerks and ending with a fair enough landing for viewers to accept.
RATING: 5/10 “Messy”
Many thanks to those who Punched a Ticket
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