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Still shot from the movie: Top Gun.

Top Gun

This top-grossing film of 1986 follows the hotshot pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise) as he trains at the Miramar Naval Air Station. Along with competing for the Top Gun title against other talented flyers (one played by Val Kilmer), he also makes time to flirt with his teacher (Kelly McGillis).

Overall Grade: C+
Violence: B-
Sexual Content: C
Language: C-
Drugs/Alcohol: C+
Release Date: 07 Feb 2013
Run Time: 110
MPAA Rating: PG


In-Depth Review

Special Note:

Top Gun will be playing in IMAX 3D for a limited theatrical run from February 8 - 14, 2013. The classic film then releases to home video (Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray 2D/2 Disc Set) on February 19, 2013.

Long before his couch-jumping antics on Oprah, his conversion to Scientology or his marriage and subsequent divorce from Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise played a hotshot pilot with a huge chip on his shoulder. Although the actor debuted in the 1981 movie Endless Love followed by The Outsiders, Risky Business and All the Right Moves, Cruise, who has gone on to become one of Hollywood’s highest paid actors, cemented his status as an up and coming actor in this role as a naval pilot in the 1986 movie Top Gun.

His character, Maverick, recklessly attacks the sky on every flight exercise. Haunted by the negative reports surrounding his father’s death in Vietnam, Maverick pushes the limits of his plane and the patience of his fellow officers while repeatedly defying naval rules and regulations. However after chasing off a handful of MiGs over the Indian Ocean, the young airman and his co pilot Lt. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) are selected for intense training in Miramar, California. At the Navy’s elite flying school, the pair face off against rival LT Tom “Iceman” Kasansky (Val Kilmer) and a handful of other airmen who are also vying for the honor of Top Gun.

Thrown into the plot is Maverick’s after hours romance with civilian instructor Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood (Kelly McGillis) that leads to tension in the classroom and some tongue wrestling in the bedroom. While the storyline was never riveting, it seems even cheesier nearly three decades later when big hair and synthesized soundtracks have gone the way of Betamax. But it was likely the flight scenes (by pilots from the F-14 fighter squadron VF-51 Screaming Eagles) and not the ground level story that lured Jerry Bruckheimer into producing a 3D version of the film in hopes of introducing new generations of audiences to this top grossing film of the year.

Rated PG, Top Gun’s sexual material involves passionate silhouetted kissing, implied sexual activity and some brief crude sexual dialogue, along with a battery of profanities. But the real focus is what happens in the air. And it seems that Cruise’s stint as the swaggering lieutenant proved to be advantageous for both him and the film’s makers—even if Maverick’s arrogant attitude isn’t one parents would want reenacted at home.

Original Theatrical Release Date: 16 May 1986

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Violence: Characters engage in intense fighter pilot training and later in a dogfight with enemy planes. One man is killed while trying to eject from his plane. Several planes are blown up. A character is shown with blood on his face. A man, who has a reputation for disregarding rules, intentionally disobeys orders and buzzes the tower. A man nearly crashes a plane into an aircraft carrier deck after a close encounter with enemy pilots. An angry man pushes his co-pilot.

Sexual Content: A couple begins to undress. Silhouettes of them are shown in bed kissing and licking one another. The scene cuts to the morning after with a woman in bed. Men are shown wearing only towels or underwear in a dressing room. Men take their shirts off during an outdoor game. A man suggests he and woman have sex on a bathroom counter. A flirting woman asks her husband to take her to bed.

Language: The script contains frequent profanities, terms of Deity and crude slang terms for sex and male erections. Two crude hand gestures are used.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink on several occasions in a bar setting. A naval officer smokes cigars. Other brief moments of cigarette and alcohol use are depicted.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Characters often wear sunglasses inside buildings or darkened rooms in this movie. Why? How are sunglasses used to create an aura of “cool”? Why do you think the number of people wanting to join the navy increased sharply after the release of this movie?

What does the description “larger than life” mean? What characters in this movie fit that descriptor? What are the dangers of working with a person who routinely breaks the rules? Whose lives does Maverick endanger in this movie? How does the story of his father’s death impact this young flyboy? How does it influence his approach to flying?

What characters serve as role models in this story? Why are they important to the young pilots? Why is Cmdr. Mike Metcalf (Tom Skerritt) so insistent that Maverick get back in the air after the accident?

Video alternatives

See Tom Cruise in these action roles: Mission Impossible, Mission Impossible 2, Mission Impossible 3 and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. He takes on a more serious role in the historical drama Valkyrie.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: Top Gun 3D

Release Date: 19 February 2013

Top Gun releases to home video (3D Blu-ray or 2D Blu-ray/2 Disc Set) with the following extras:

- Commentary by producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Tony Scott, co-screenwriter Jack Epps, Jr. and naval experts

- Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun (six-part documentary)

- Multi-Angle Storyboards with optional commentary by Tony Scott

- Best of the Best: Inside the Real Top Gun

- Music Videos

- TV Spots

- Survival Training Featurette

- Tom Cruise Interviews

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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