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Top Gun: 1986 and all that

Tom Cruise as Maverick in “Top Gun.” (Paramount Pictures) News

Top Gun: 1986 and all that

Can you imagine?  Thirty-six years since the original Top Gun hit the screens?  With the sequel selling out screenings here and across cinemas nationwide, our resident critic Jacob James looks back at the original.

When it comes to actors with a drastic change in their filmography, few have done it quite like Tom Cruise.

At the start of his career, he was more often than not cast for his looks than for his action. Hell, he technically didn’t become known for action until the first Mission Impossible came out. It wouldn’t be around Mission Impossible 2 (or as I call it Shooty, Shooty, Bang, Bang) that he really became synonymous with action. However, before he started shooting stuff and screaming while falling, he was shooting stuff and screaming while falling. But in the 80s. It’s Top Gun.

Let’s start with the positives. I think Maverick (Cruise) and Charlie (McGills) have some good chemistry, as does Maverick and Goose (Edwards). I also think the acting is pretty good here. None of them were Oscar winning (though, to be fair, the Oscars giving attention to an action film is like them saying that animation is for all ages and not just children), but they were decent. Same goes for the action (but I do have a flaw with that, which I’ll get to in a minute). Also, this film revolutionised how action with models is done — sticking a drill, with a plank of wood on it, at the bottom of the camera and film whilst it’s spinning around. 

Ok, now onto the negatives. I felt like the plot of this film was a bit basic. I don’t think a basic plot is bad, it’s just the excursion of it has to be really good to make up for it. Take The Iron Giant. It’s your basic ‘boy befriends creature’ plot, but the characters, animation and pacing all work in the film’s favour. Here? I don’t think the other elements really add up to make up the basicness of the plot. It’s your typical ‘rookie is wild, his superiors don’t like it. The rookie falls in love, his friend dies, there’s some emotional stuff and then the rookie does something heroic and happy ending, yeah’. A basic plot, with not a lot to make up for it.  

Now, remember that issue I had with the action? Guess what time it is (and no, it’s not adventure time). I feel like the action is fine in the movie, it’s just… I don’t feel like I’m experiencing it in the right way. I generally feel like this action should be viewed in a giant cinema screen atmosphere. No distractions — you can just feel everything happening, and it’s all nice and clear. Meanwhile, I — born in the 2000s — was watching it in the living room, light pouring out from the windows with my phone in hand, whilst wearing the film through speakers that could only really be felt by the bugs. The action was fine, but I do think when it comes to action related, you really need a good cinema-esque environment.

Overall, I think it’s an alright action movie. 7/10.  Could use more homoerotic volleyball scenes.

pic: Tom Cruise as Maverick in “Top Gun.”   (Paramount Pictures)