Thursday, June 13, 2013

76. Top Gun (1986)

Code-name: Loggins theme

Director: Tony Scott (may he rest in peace)
Type: Action, Comedy, Drama

Pete Mitchell/"Maverick"- Tom Cruise
"Goose"- Anthony Edwards
Charlie- Kelly McGillis
"Ice-Man"- Val Kilmer
"Viper"-Tom Skerritt
"Jester"-Michael Ironside
"Merlin"- Tim Robbins
"Stinger"- James Tolkan

[Personal Notations]

When it comes to my favorite movies that came out during my year, this is probably at the top of that particular list... with the exception of one other, I believe, in my top 10, if not the top 20.

We go way back... I first saw this when I was at least ten...
and it all started with the soundtrack.

It was either in 1995 or 1996 when I got into Power Rangers. Loved the show and the martial arts that came with it. On that basis alone, I wanted to take karate. When I told my dad, he said that if this was something I wanted to commit to, it had to be for more than that. 
It had to be about what I wanted for myself, to make myself better.
Something to that effect...

Anyway, long story short, I got my black belt in Tang Soo Do in 1998. 
About a year later, I had to "retire" because I needed surgery to take care of the scoliosis I had no idea I had until that particular summer...
I use quotes for "retire" because I had had enough around that point. It didn't excite me nearly as much as it used to.

But one time during every class session, we would set up a relay where we did a number of various exercises up and down the floor. Everything from rolling into a kick to punching targets being held by junior instructors or doing push-ups.
My instructor always played the "Top Gun" soundtrack, so we did punches, kicks and so on to "Danger Zone" and "Mighty Wings", sometimes we'd go a little beyond that.

Eventually, I got my own copy for my birthday. And truthfully, I had not listened to it in AGES.

[A nod to Kenny Loggins and Harold Faltermeyer]

Both of whom are responsible for the awesome soundtrack...
Other artists included Miami Sound Machine, Cheap Trick and the infamous Berlin hit "Take my breathe away."

Interesting bit of trivia I just found:
"Danger Zone" was originally considered for Toto and REO Speedwagon, but I guess someone figured Kenny Loggins was the king of 80's soundtracks.
"Caddyshack" and "Footloose" come to mind.

And supposedly a lot of artists were either tapped to record for the movie or be part of the soundtrack, a lot of whom turned it down because they didn't agree with something the film stood for. 
Such a polarizing time, the 80's, what with the Cold War looming and such.

Of course, 80's fans know that Harold Faltermeyer is awesome for his various contributions to musical scores... this is a taste of what's to come further down this list.

[The Cast]

Amazingly a lot of people were considered for the role of Maverick... a larger number turned it down including "Outsiders" castmates Swayze and Emilio Estavez... a lot of strange, nerdy choices like Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage and John Cusack as well.
Also considered were "outer" members of the Brat Pack including Rob Lowe, Eric Stoltz, and Charlie Sheen... even Robert Downey... I'm not sure how seriously they considered him for this role with him fresh off the set of "Weird Science"... for the dramatic parts of the movie, I'm sure he would have been excellent, but in the wide scope of things, I just don't see it.
John Travolta was also considered, but supposedly they decided against it because they didn't have a check big enough to cash in response to his massive price tag.

When I think of Maverick, I think of someone that's a bit of a rouge, reckless in everything they do, but Tom Cruise fits the part to a T because he just had the right look for that character.
The first movie I saw him in and I'd always kinda had a soft spot for his work since then.

Except for "Rain Man," I'm not as impressed with the rest of his work in the 80's.
Just one of those actors who got better with age.
I just prefer to reflect on him through his work rather than what he does with his personal life (Scientology and otherwise).

Anthony Edwards is one of my mom's favorite actors. She loved Goose.
Now that's the dude all of those nerdy actors should have been considered for, the name is just goofy enough to fit their descriptions.
He's a great character, though, with a lot of range. He knows when to keep it serious, to reel Maverick in when he needs to be, and the two of them together make a good comedy team. Not the greatest... but good enough for constant entertainment during the lighter moments.

We have Val Kilmer in his first big role. 
It'd be a couple years before I appreciated his actor, although I hadn't seen much of him.
Ice-Man is very similiar to Maverick with their cockyness and their hot physiques, but, as his call sign implies, his flying style is clean, cut and smooth. He's not a huge risk-taker. 

Shawshank fans will recognize Tim Robbins, although you see very little of his face. Most of the time, he's up in the air wearing his designated flight helmet.

Kelly McGillis, as Maverick's flight instructor, and Tom Skerritt as the top commander of the Top Gun flight school, I can't help but identify with their given roles.
But I hadn't seen much them since this movie either.
A lot of people were kinda shocked when she came out of the closet a while back, especially after she did those steamy scenes with Tom Cruise. 
You just never know sometimes, but it really makes no difference. What matters is that people give their best to their roles.

[Plot points]

ample spoilers from here on out

Our story begins with a typical mission.

Maverick and Goose are in the air with ace flyer Cougar and Merlin, taking care of a couple bogeys.
In one bit of hilarity, Maverick inverts his plane to look down on one of his foes, Goose takes a picture with a Polarid and the dude, rolling his eyes, leaves the airspace. 
But because this bogey had given Cougar a lot of trouble, he has a panic attack so bad that Maverick, defying his orders to return to base,  coachs him back to the aircraft carrier. With his wife and new baby in mind, Cougar decides that the best thing for him is to quit, having lost the edge he needs to be a part of this.

A lot of great lines in this movie.

Even when it isn't meant to be funny, I love this next scene where Stinger (who played the principal in "Back to the Future") tears into Maverick and Goose for disobeying orders. But despite all the stuff he says, he confessed to them that they are now #1 (with Cougar's exit) in his division and they're getting his spot at the Top Gun flight school.

Most of the plot is generated from Maverick, somewhat of a polarizing personality with the way he handles things, and how he makes it through the training at this school. 
He's not well-liked by many of his peers, so luckily, he has Goose to back him up.

Then we have the subplot of the romance blossoming between Maverick and Charlie.
He first meets her at a bar where his pick-up-line is to sing "You've lost that loving feeling."
(Why is that not on the soundtrack, people?! I still haven't figured that out yet).

There are literally too many good quotes to name all at once during the first 20 minutes of this movie, but each one is worth coming back to with each viewing. The bar scene is the first time many of them crop up in one place.

Next is the exercise where Maverick and Goose are in a training exercise with Jester. The instrumental for "Mighty Wings" plays in the background. He proves to be a slick adversary and they do beat him... but again, bending the rules ever so slightly, by crossing below the minimum altitude for just a few seconds.
Maverick goes on to celebrate this victory by "buzzing the tower"... speeding by the flight tower, something he has a reputation for doing. 
Only this time, a dude in the tower happens to have hot coffee in hand and in his surprise, promptly spills it all over himself.

Not even two minutes after this incident, he runs out of the office after reporting this incident to "Viper", only to run into this poor intern wearing a sailor outfit (these pilots are part of the Navy, so I guess that explains things a bit) holding a tray of coffee cups.

"Damn it! That's twice! (off screen) I want some butts!"
ah, the coffee guy

"Viper" gives Maverick a stern talking to, explaining that the rules exist for their safety and aren't made to be broken. 

Regarding the relationship with Charlie, she arrives on site as an astrophysicist, a guest from D.C., to lend her expertise.
She and Maverick see each other off-site because a student-teacher relationship would be highly unprofessional. 
Naturally there's a little tension when their personal and professional lives clash.

My memory isn't as great as it could be, but if I remember right, it kinda feels like their relationship disappears for a while and really isn't mentioned until the latter portions of the movie. 

As was the case with "Trading Places," this movie tanks a little bit after the climax of the plot. 
Here, we have the clich├ęd third act... where the hero is plagued by self-doubt in response to some great awakening or tragedy and he must rise to the occasion or else risk oblivion, whether it's in the figurative or literal sense. 

I forget what I was watching recently, but someone in a show or movie was talking about seeing "Top Gun" for the first time and someone accidentally blabs that Goose dies. 

Maverick and Goose are doing another exercise when, all of the sudden, the plane goes out of control. They eject, but Goose hits the ejected plane canopy (Wikipedia says he broke his neck  and died instantly).
It is ruled that Goose's death was not Maverick's fault, but the fault of the plane itself.

This breaks him so bad that he decides, after one failed mission with his new co-pilot Hollywood, never to fly again.
No matter who tries to console him, it's to no avail.

What does help him come out of it is when he sees Viper at his house, where he tells him about flying with Maverick's father- someone who'd been alluded to a couple times, but we don't hear much about. 
Again, my memory is lacking around this point, so I can't go too into it. But in my defense, it's a great bit of dialogue from Tom Skerritt.

The following scene is Graduation, where "Ice-Man" awarded the trophy for being the "best of the best." Then an emergency situation is at hand and all of the pilots need to go in the air to take care of the enemy. 
Maverick gets back in the saddle and even though "Viper" himself offers to be his co-pilot, he decides to pick "Merlin," who we really haven't seen since the opening parts of the movie.

Long story short, the good guys win.
Maverick tells "Stinger" he plans on becoming a Top Gun instructor (to which he says "God help us"... laughing it off meaningfully.
And he and Charlie are back together, if they were ever apart to begin with... again, they don't go into detail about it.

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