Take Me on Your Mighty Wings...of Fail!
"If you remember having good memories of this movie, then it was probably because you were too young to know what was going on, or an idiot."
Truer words were never spoken about one of my favorite films from my childhood, Top Gun. Having recently watched it again (albeit in AFN's typically censored form), I've found a new appreciation, or rather a lack thereof, of this classic tale of friendship, camaraderie and homoerotic volleyball. Set in the "present day" according to the post-theme song subtitles (despite the distinctly mid-80s milieu), Top Gun follows the adventures of naval aviators Maverick and Goose. Portrayed by Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards respectively, this pilot and RIO team is the bane of the aircraft carrier Enterprise's CAG. Everything's going fine and dandy until trouble arises...
Turns out a couple of MiGs (which happen to look a lot like F-5s painted black) have wandered into the wrong airspace over the Indian Ocean. Maverick and Goose, along with their buddies Cougar and Merlin, fly their F-14s over to take a gander. They can't shoot at the enemy planes, so Maverick settles for getting a missile lock on one, which seems to involve an inordinate amount of verbal coaxing. Meanwhile, the other MiG pilot has done the same to Cougar and Merlin's plane (presumably the MiG's top secret Soviet technology doesn't require its pilot to whisper sweet nothings into the targeting computer, but you never know). After the first bogey flies away in defeat, Maverick totally disregards his wingman's predicament and maneuvers his F-14 upside-down over the remaining MiG to engage in some one-fingered foreign relations. The enemy pilot gets bored and goes home, and Maverick decides it's time to return to the carrier. His plane hits the Enterprise's deck by the time he decides to help out Cougar, who's still idly flying around like some kind of retard, so he hits the throttle and leaves the deck (somehow managing to avoid tearing his plane apart after catching one of the carrier's arrestor wires in the process).
Maverick manages to get Cougar to land in one piece, but there's a problem. The CAG's not too happy about the stunt he just pulled, but since Cougar is so freaked out over the previous confrontation that he turned in his aviator wings, he has no choice but to send Maverick and Goose to the Navy Fighter Weapons School (also known as Top Gun). Despite receiving some vague threats involving rubber dog doo and Hong Kong, Maverick gets settled in rather quickly. He doesn't hesitate to making googly eyes toward another pilot (Iceman) and some random woman in a bar.
Oops! Turns out that woman is Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood, a Top Gun instructor. A voice-over from one of the other instructors, who apparently also goes by the name "Captain Obvious," reminds the students that as a civilian, she should not be saluted. I don't know what a civilian brings to the table in an advanced combat pilot training school, but whatever. Maverick spends the next several scenes making a jerk of himself, which culminates in a flyby past a flight control tower that causes some fat guy to spill his coffee and nearly gets himself and Goose kicked out of Top Gun. But it's Ok, because Charlie is still all over him like bug spray on boll weevils.
Maverick and Goose eventually get back on track, but before long, tragedy strikes. Goose's wife and kid come to visit. No, but seriously, there was an accident during a flight. Maverick's plane flew through Iceman's jetwash, which I guess is really bad for F-14s or something. Both engines go out, the plane starts spinning uncontrollably, and they eject. Unfortunately, Goose catches a face full of canopy on the way out and dies. They parachute into the ocean (despite the fact that they were flying over mountainous desert terrain not two minutes before), Maverick ends up moping around for a while and Charlie drops him like a bad habit.
After Maverick has a rousing discussion with Top Gun's chief instructor, during which he learns the details of his father's fate (if Hollywood is any indication, having your father KIA/MIA is a prerequisite to becoming a fighter pilot), he gets his act together and attends the Top Gun graduation ceremony. But there's no time for celebration, because some ship broke down in hostile waters and no other pilots in the entire United States Navy could possibly be up to the task of saving it from the MiGs and their magical anti-ship missiles. Fortunately, it seems that the bad guys are more than willing to hold off on their attack until the Top Gun graduates can get over there.
Once they finally arrive on the Enterprise, the CAG briefs them and Iceman and his buddies get sent to shoot up the bad guys while Maverick gets stuck twiddling his thumbs on the flight deck with his new RIO, Merlin. It doesn't take long before the other pilots find themselves outnumbered and outgunned, so Maverick gets sent to save the day. Despite nearly chickening out, he shoots down a bunch of MiGs, makes a flyby past the Enterprise's tower (which causes the same fat guy, who somehow works there now, to spill his coffee again), and returns to a hero's welcome. He and Iceman confess their love for one another (more or less), Maverick decides to become a Top Gun instructor, and Charlie decides he's not such a dweeb after all. The end.
There you have it. In the twenty-plus years since Top Gun's release, it hasn't aged particularly well, but there wasn't a whole lot there to begin with. It's cheesy macho action as only Jerry Bruckheimer can bring you. But it was nice to see this film again after so many years, if only to ridicule it. It's definitely more entertaining than the usual trash they peddle on AFN. Seriously guys, if I see The Guardian or Click one more time I'm going to flip out!