Guilt Trip: Top Gun

Top Gun is one of my favourite films. There, I said it. It’s by no means one of the best films ever made, and I fully appreciate that. Is it underappreciated? Definitely. I put it to you that it is indeed ‘that sort of movie’, but it’s well worth a watch regardless, because it is a rare gem in otherwise mouldy pile of dated 80s cheese.

The movie is topped to the brim with great action, even if it also has a rather under-developed plot to go with it (despite this, there’s more character development in this than you’ll see in many blockbusters of the time, or even of today). I’m not an action movie fanatic, but it really doesn’t take one to see that the aerial dogfight sequences are really spectacular.

Top Gun features what could be considered the highest ratio of cheesy lines in recorded human history”

Action is what Tony Scott excels in, and it shows here. The cutting between in-cockpit with the actors and the shots of the planes themselves is smooth, and there were barely any moments where I was taken out of the action by an awkward cut that broke suspension of disbelief. On top of all of that, the film looks gorgeous.

Unsurprisingly, Top Gun features what could be considered the highest ratio of cheesy lines to the rest of the script of any film in recorded human history. “Slider, you stink” is my favourite example of one of the cheesier lines. The script is filled with timeless zingers, and I admit it does reject other elements that need more development, such as the weird sub-plot of the mystery surrounding Maverick’s father, which is resolved in an unsatisfying and inconsequential way. The script sets up the zingers and action, and those are so good, everything else is forgivable.

The characters are one-dimensional, it’s got to be said, but there are saving graces which actually turn this around and make it very easy to forgive this. The way Goose and Maverick riff off each other means you can’t help but root for them. The acting does definitely brings the characters to life, especially in Val Kilmer’s case, playing Iceman. Given a rather dull character to play, there is one stand-out moment that does humanise him, through some rather good acting on Kilmer’s part.

I understand why you could hate it, but don’t take it too seriously and it’s actually quite a good movie, which is a ton of fun to watch.

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