Reviews

Top Gun

5

It all started when Jerry Bruckheimer saw an article in California Magazine. Titled `Top Guns', plural, it told of the Navy's Elite Fighter Weapons School in Miramar, San Diego, a training ground where the best of the best went to get better. Bruckheimer flipped the article on to partner Don Simpson's desk: "It's Star Wars... On Earth."

Two decades on, Bruckheimer's glib analogy now seems especially fitting. Like Star Wars, Top Gun only fires on all cylinders for viewers of a certain age. You weren't born between 1968-73? Then you missed the moment. Sure, you'll still appreciate the standout dogfights, backlit F-14s spinning and plummeting at Mach-2, the pilots' hair on fire, but you'll choke at the cheesy love scene, the even cheesier music and the Stilton-stinky politics. If you were a teenager upon the movie's 1986 release, however, none of that matters. No, scratch that. It does matter: the so-blue-it-could-be-underwater sex scene, shuddering synthesisers and black-visored Russkies adding to the camp glory that is Top Gun, the high-concept actioner of the terrifically tacky '80s.

The plot is drafted straight from the nearest sports movie, locker scenes intact, as Tom Cruise's cocky Maverick battles Val Kilmer's phlegmatic Ice Man for the Top Gun trophy. There are a couple of uniform sub-plots, too: Maverick woos Kelly McGillis's sizzling flight instructor with his fancy moves and looks wounded-but-virile in pristine Y-fronts as he mourns for best buddy Anthony Edwards.

Yet for all Bruckheimer and Simpson's insistences that Top Gun should, as they put it, "play to Momma and Poppa in Oklahoma", it's a movie with energy to burn. It made Cruise a superstar. It introduced us to a bubbly Meg Ryan ("Take me to bed or lose me forever!"). And its gleaming, high-voltage visuals earned Tony Scott his directorial wings - not to mention his own office on the Paramount lot - after the fussy flop that was lesbian-vampire flick The Hunger.

All this and a volleyball sequence so slick, so well-oiled, it was voted `favourite scene in the movies' by Suck Magazine. Three years running. Take my breath away, indeed.

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