With its fierce dogfighting F-15s, brash young pilots, sweaty volleyball scenes to Kenny Loggins music and Kelly McGillis, “Top Gun” is an action movie that can arguably define 1980s cinema.
I truly believe it paved the way to nailing the coffin shut on movies ever being about art again. The Hollywood blockbuster had already been around for more than a decade, beginning with Steven Spielberg’s “JAWS,” and by the time 1986 rolled around, Bruckheimer and Simpson’s “Top Gun” made if official: movies were about making money. This new age of the Hollywood Blockbuster Juggernaut now had a face: Tom Cruise.
“Top Gun” sent Tom Cruise’s career into the stratosphere. He’d later team up once again with Director Tony Scott to shoot another high-octane, engine rattling, macho man epic in “Days of Thunder.” “Top Gun” also features young and strong performances by Val Kilmer (“Wonderland”), Anthony Edwards (TV’s “E.R.”), and Meg Ryan (“When Harry Met Sally”).
All that being said, the thing that drives me crazy about “Top Gun” is that whether or not we like to admit it, Tony Scott delivered an incredibly cheesy indulgence. I like Goose and Maverick. I like Iceman and I really get into that Kenny Loggins music.
Let’s get real here. This movie pushed the envelope on aerial photography. Bruckheimer has been known to push the limits (see the aerial shots in Transformers 3) and for the time, the jet fighter battle scenes were jaw-dropping. “Top Gun” really does a wonderful job of taking the audience on a wild jet fighter ride.
I guess this is the first-time in this column I will recommend a movie I like, but don’t completely support.
As I had mentioned, “Top Gun” was brought to us by now powerhouse mega-gazillionaire producer Jerry Bruckheimer and his now-deceased partner Don Simpson. This producing duo brought us the “Bad Boys” series with Will Smith and “The Rock” with Nick Cage. Once Simpson had sadly passed away, it had become apparent that Bruckheimer lost a little of the magic that made his movies, and characters for that matter, more grounded in the real world. For example, Bruckheimer later produced the unbelievably wild and implausible “Con Air” (1997) and “Armageddon” (1998).
To Bruckheimer’s credit, he’d understood the relationship of marrying the soundtrack, or a song, to a specific scene to make it memorable. “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin became a mega-hit after being featured in the love scene. I’ve already mentioned Kenny Loggins twice already. “Highway to the Danger Zone” … does it get any more macho than that?
I like to think that “Top Gun” was the birth of cinema as “pop.” Of course, art didn’t die and great films have been made since, but since the 1980s, the budgets have massively escalated along with the salaries and the box-office.
It’s said that Bruckheimer goes to three to four movies a day in the theatre when it’s his day off. That’s the irony. The filmmakers most responsible for creating the box-office juggernaut like Spielberg, Lucas and Bruckheimer… love movies! They idolize old films, producers and directors and their work changed what they love most.
Director: Tony Scott
Starring: Tom Cruise