Top Gun

Top Gun

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Tony Scott, Don Simpson, and Jerry Bruckheimer all got together and decided to pool their efforts into one whiz-bang, nerve-wracking spectacle of everything the three men could possibly offer, and the result is Top Gun, the most macho, adrenaline-charged action flick to come out of the 1980s. If you haven’t seen it yet (and I hadn’t until just now), chances are you know enough hearsay to know all about the film regardless, and even watching it for the first time I knew where it was going through every turn of the plot.

The scenes up in the air with the planes flying around and dogfighting each other is the main selling point, and in that vein, the film delivers. Another aspect the film indulges in is its soundtrack; there are so many songs used in this film through so much of the running time that there’s barely any room for anything else; silence is a dirty word to Top Gun. Those two aspects pretty much cover what I liked, or found notable, about the film; as for the rest, it is a rickety structure at best, with lots of flash to disguise the lack of real substance. The whole thing, every bit of it, is designed to wring out each respective emotion and feeling from you as if you were a wet dishrag, without very much care as to the process or formula for what makes a good film. The film couldn’t be any less blunt about it if it wanted to, and it very clearly does not want to, in any way. Tom Cruise is singularly “Tom Cruise”, and indeed this may very well be the performance that started his well-honed on-screen persona. The rest of the actors are somewhat standardized; each filling a particular cookie-cutter role and doing well enough with it, despite it being cookie-cutter.

This was unfortunately a case of tainted perceptions for me; much had been made of this film in the 1001 Blog Club, and I went into the film with that knowledge and a hope that I could find something else, something more worthy of merit. What I ended up with was much of the same that has already been said; the romantic angle was kinda cheesy at times, but it worked for the setting, and the aerial footage is the clear highlight, but everything else just flounders in its attempt to be as masculine and jingoistic as possible. It punches the adrenaline gland all right, but there’s this hollow, empty feeling that underlies the rush, much like eating a bunch of really sweet icing and never really feeling full. I can’t say everyone will be like me; the film is designed to appeal to such a widespread mainstream audience that it automatically entertains just about anyone that watches it, but I went in deliberately looking for a little more, and I came up empty-handed.

Arbitrary Rating: 6/10

R.I.P. Tony Scott.

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4 thoughts on “Top Gun

  1. I love that you call this macho and masculine, because I find this one of the most homoerotic films I’ve ever seen. There’s a reason “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was instituted in the years immediately following this film.

    I agree that the flight scenes are good. The rest? Eh, you’ve seen it all before.

    • I hesitated to call it homoerotic just because it had been said so much already, but I used the terms macho and masculine to imply very much the same thing. It was probably a product of the 1980s mentality and the film’s attempt at glorifying all that man can be that rendered it homoerotic in retrospect; I’m sure any testosterone-fueled project like 300 will have similar words thrown around it as well, if not already.

      • While probably true, 300 doesn’t have shirtless guys playing beach volleyball while KennyLoggins sings “Playin’ with the Boys,” Val Kilmer making bitey motions at Tom Cruise, or the line “You can be my wingman anytime…”

  2. I saw this in the theaters back when it came out. It was a fun movie, but nothing more. It blows my mind that it’s in the book, and I figure it’s one of their random attempts to include some relevance to general movie audiences among their forest of critic’s darlings. If I was going to include an early Cruise film it would be Risky Business.

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