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Come on. Admit it. Who among us didn’t want to be Maverick or Iceman? Top Gun is a proper boys-with-toys movie with all the classic elements – two rival fighter pilots battling for supremacy, leather jackets, massively expensive military hardware, Ray-Ban Aviators, chiselled jaws by the dozen and the seemingly unobtainable girl. This film has got Tom Cruise written all over it.
So-called because of his casual relationship with the rulebook, Maverick (Cruise) vies with Val Kilmer’s Iceman throughout the film for the position of Top Gun, the best pilot in each class of the Navy’s elite flying school.
As the central character, Maverick suffers from ‘relationship overload’ – with his best friend and navigator Goose; with Charlie, the ball-busting Flight Instructor; with Iceman who thinks he’s all style and no substance; with Commander Michael ‘Viper’ Metcalf (played by Tom Skerritt); with the mystery surrounding his father’s death (a brilliant Navy fighter pilot in Vietnam) and perhaps most tellingly, with his plane and his motorcycle.
While the aerial combat shots are brilliantly choreographed and the macho preening is world-class, the sometimes steamy, sometimes stormy love affair between Maverick and Charlie seems like a drawn-out, second-rate perfume commercial.
The inevitable crisis of confidence appears when during a practise mission, Goose (played with perfect understatement by Anthony Edwards) is killed after an exercise goes wrong and Maverick’s confidence is destroyed. Will he ever be able to get back in the cockpit? YOU’RE GODDAM RIGHT HE WILL! The final battle scene sees Maverick fly head-first into danger to protect Iceman against the enemy MiGs and back on the ground, everyone is friends again!
Top Gun launched Tom Cruise onto Hollywood’s ‘A list’ where he has remained ever since but we must tip our hats to some excellent supporting roles from Tom Skerritt as the Commander of the flight school and to Meg Ryan as Goose’s wife. Throw in a memorable soundtrack, including the über-memorable ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin and you have the ultimate joyride for stay-at-home jet pilots!
Some of our favourite Top Gun quotes…
Maverick: I feel the need…
Maverick & Goose: …the need for speed!
Maverick: You don’t have time to think up there. If you think, you’re dead.
Merlin: Mustang, this is Voodoo 3. Remaining MiGs are bugging out.
Viper: Damn, this kid is good!
Stinger: Maverick, you just did an incredibly brave thing. What you should have done was land your plane! You don’t own that plane, the tax payers do! Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash. You’ve been busted, you lost your qualifications as section leader three times, put in hack twice by me, with a history of high speed passes over five air control towers, and one admiral’s daughter!
Maverick: This is what I call a target-rich environment.
Goose: You live your life between your legs, Mav!
Maverick: Goose, even you could get laid in a place like this.
Goose: Hell, I’d be happy just to find a girl that would talk dirty to me!
Top Gun Trivia!
Actors that turned down the role of Maverick: Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Nicholas Cage, John Cusack, Matthew Broderick, Sean Penn, Michael J. Fox, Scott Baio and Tom Hanks.
Actresses that turn down the role of Charlie: Tatum O’Neal, Jodie Foster, Darryl Hannah, Diane Lane, Sarah Jessica Parker, Linda Hamilton and Brooke Shields.
To prepare for the role, Tom Cruise took three rides in the F-14 Tomcat. He puked during the first ride but was OK on the other two!
Perhaps the most famous line in the film, where Iceman coughs ‘bullshit’, is ad-libbed!
Val Kilmer didn’t want to be in the film but he was forced to due to his contractual obligations.
Tom Cruise had to wear lifts in his shoes during scenes with Kelly McGillis. He’s 5’7” and she’s 5’10”.
The Stars of Top Gun – Where Are They Now?
Was never seen nor heard of again after Top Gun. Just kidding! Arguably the world’s most bankable film star, he has appeared in blockbuster after blockbuster. He’s perhaps as well known for being a Scientologist and for his marriage to Katie Holmes these days but he still remains the poster boy for the Hollywood elite.
From Iceman to Batman to Jim Morrison to providing the voice for K.I.T.T., Val Kilmer remains a TV and film star with movies in production.
Perhaps most famous for playing Dr. Mark Greene in ER, he has also appeared in films such as Zodiac in 2007 and Flipped in 2010.
As the poster girl for a lot of pre-teens growing up in the 80s, her career never quite took off. She had a recurring role on ‘The L-Word’ and came out as a lesbian in 2009, a year later entering into a civil union with her partner. She now spends her time working as a drug counsellor in New Jersey.