BY KATHERINE MURRAY
Date Released: May 16, 1986
Date Watched: June 24, 2014
Why now? I would like to say that it’s because Bruckheimer’s talking about a sequel again, or because I was somehow aware that Top Gun 3D came out last year. I would even like to say that it’s because I was trying to plug holes in my viewing history, but no. I watched Top Gun because I wanted to see if Battlestar Galactica was doing an homage to it in “Act of Contrition.” That’s the whole reason and it shames me.
Why not then? I was two years old, when it came out. Actually, for all I know, maybe I did see Top Gun and I just don’t remember. Maybe Top Gun was my babysitter before we got a dog. I have no idea. In the intervening years though, I confused it with Days of Thunder, and thought that it was about Tom Cruise racing planes and meeting Nicole Kidman, which I didn’t really care about. Then I got it confused with A Few Good Men, which I had already seen. By the time I figured out WTF it was, we had arrived in a new century.
- Tom Cruise going to some kind of air force school where he races planes. Him having an affair with one of his instructors that Battlestar Galactica may or may not be doing an homage to
- The affair with the instructor being kind of heavy and complicated, possibly ending in tragedy and/or heartbreak
- Tom Cruise being a likable underdog who Plays By His Own Rules and mistrusts the system, but ultimately saves the day somehow and comes across as charming. Me wanting to make out with him a little, but feeling kind of weird about it
- Tom Cruise winning some big plane race to prove that he’s a man
- An average depiction of homosocial relationships that the internet has somehow blown out of proportion in insisting that this is the most homoerotic movie ever made
- Terri Nunn singing songs that get stuck in my head
What I actually got:
- “Take my breath aaawaaaaaaay!” (That’s the only part I got right, so let’s relish it for a second)
- I’m pretty sure this movie is a literal re-enactment of a sexually confused 15-year-old boy’s daydream about being a fighter pilot
- Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick, flies planes, all right… in the navy. So, I was not only wrong about the movie, I was wrong about which branch of the US military has the TOPGUN program. Whatever. I think my guess of “air force” was a little more intuitive. Anyway, he wants to win at dogfighting rather than winning or ever actually entering a race
- This is truthfully the most homoerotic movie ever made. I actually don’t think that you could make this movie today without having at least one of the pilots canonically gay. Ironically, it’s only the lingering homophobia of the 80s that would make someone dismiss the idea that something homosexual is happening between these characters
- Maverick is not likable at all. I would not make out with him. He’s a smarmy, conceited, self-centered jerk, and the movie rewards him for that at virtually every turn. He doesn’t learn anything (except that it’s sad when your friends die), and there are an inordinate number of scenes where the other characters stand around telling him how awesome he is
- The instructor Maverick has an affair with is the only female authority figure in the story, and his seduction of her (which is really adolescent and unskilled) mostly seems to serve the purpose of neutralizing her authority. He completely disrespects her whenever she tries to act in her capacity as an instructor, and she’s apologetic to him for trying to do her job. There’s one sequence where she tells him that he made a mistake during one of his flights, and then he refuses to acknowledge her, and sits there revving the engine on his stupid motorcycle as she tries to talk. She chases after him and explains that, actually, if he’d let her finish, she was going to say he’s the best. Gross
- Also kind of gross: She’s older than he is and, as I said, an authority figure. Their first date consists of him telling her about his troubles with his parents while she listens sympathetically and makes him dinner. Then he awkwardly excuses himself to take a shower, because that’s what you do when you’re dating your mom
- “Act of Contrition”, which is about how a female flight instructor fell in love with one of her students and passed him even though he couldn’t fly very well (leading him to crash and die), is definitely drawing on Top Gun, but it’s telling a more interesting story
One night stand or second date potential? An awkward, grasping, one night stand with a guy who kind of hates women and doesn’t know he’s gay. Also, he licks your face in silhouette while Terri Nunn is singing.