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Top Gun (1986)

Up there with the best of the best.

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 101 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: 15


At Miramar, California, an elite flight school teaches America’s most chisel-jawed fighter pilots the lost art of aerial combat against no-one in particular. The Navy calls it “Fighter Weapons School”, but frankly that’s a rubbish title for a movie, so everyone else calls it – wait for it – Top Gun!!! Woooooosssshhhh!!!!

Questions like “who are we actually fighting against?” and “isn’t the Navy meant to be boats?” are neither here nor there as we’re introduced to our hero Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise). According to one of his superiors (the brilliant James Tolkan), his “ego’s writing cheques that his body can’t cash” (well, what do you expect when you allow a bloke to call himself “Maverick”?), but that doesn’t prevent him from being enrolled into the Top Gun programme anyway. So, fasten your seatbelts and get your sickbags at the ready, as director Tony Scott takes us on a jet-propelled ride through edge-of-the-seat sky-bound jousting, laughably-bad romantic interludes, and quite possibly the most shamelessly homoerotic undertones you’ll find in any mainstream actioner (and that’s coming from someone who’s seen ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’).

Upon watching this newly-released Special Edition version of the mid-80s mainstay, I realised I’d forgotten just how largely uneventful much of the plot is. You get almost an hour into it before anything actually happens – and it’s also around this point, incidentally, that I was growing thoroughly fed-up of repeatedly hearing Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’ on the soundtrack.

Sure, the flight scenes are terrific, but the rest of it seems more concerned with seeing just how overtly gay it can get away with being without its target audience actually noticing. The romantic hook of the thing might cling to Cruise’s unconvincing dalliance with pretty flight teacher Kelly McGillis, but that’s always completely buried under the sea of blokes gazing longingly at one another, nudge-nudge dialogue, and bouts of topless slow-motion oiled-up volleyball while Kenny Loggins sings ‘Playing With The Boys’ in the background.

‘Top Gun’ will always hold a special place in the hearts of many an 80s movie aficionado. Perhaps it’s because it features Cruise in one of his most iconic and memorable roles. Or maybe it’s because the intermittent action sequences are so expertly shot. Or it could be because – and this is my preferred option – it really is immensely silly. Whatever the reason for its ongoing appeal, I can only hope it’s not because there’s anyone out there who actually thinks it’s any good. Because, frankly, it’s not.

It's Got: Bogeys all over us, MiGs dead ahead and, urm, Roger engaged.

It Needs: That lovin’ feeling. Ooh-er.

DVD Extras Audio commentary from Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and some Navy experts, a SEVEN-part documentary titled ‘Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun’, five more behind-the-scenes featurettes, Tom Cruise interviews, storyboards, production photography galleries, and – surely best of all - the music video ‘Danger Zone’ by 20th Century musical great Kenny “The Legend” Loggins. DVD Extras Rating: 9/10


All the fantastically-shot stunt-flying in the world can’t make up for that fact that this is one of the daftest movies ever to make it big at the box office.