Updated: Jul 10, 2020
TOP GUN REVIEW
With the incoming release of Top Gun: Maverick pushed backwards, it only seems right to take a stroll down memory lane and visit the masterpiece that is the prequel to the aforementioned film. An icon of cinema in the 80’s, from an overall as well as technical perspective. In the interest of full disclosure, this is my personal favourite film, but I will be objective when it comes to the analysis without a doubt.
This is probably the most underwhelming aspect of the film, simply because of the setting the film is set in. Rarely do we ever see a war movie or something of its ilk that has a decent plot. I had the same issue with Dunkirk, so it stands to reason I would face the same issue here. The reason is that the plot is very simplistic, and while it does make for a good war movie, it doesn’t make for a good plot in itself when you look at it from an objective perspective. The film has a simplistic idea where the protagonist (Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell) reaches a new high in his life with a little luck, especially considering that his name was disgraced because of the rumour that his father was a coward, and then Maverick hits continuous lows in his life that start with the death of his best friend, but later on proves his abilities as a fighter pilot by saving the day. This goes to show that this is a typical war film plot, simplistic and characteristic of a film in that genre, because the genre itself requires it. The saving grace of all war films are the following categories that we are about to look at.
This is where things start to pick up in the case of Top Gun. There is genuine quality that you can see here in the way the film has been put together, and that is because Tony Scott, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer have done a very good job of putting this film together. The reason I say that is because a lot of the film involved action shots, whether those are outside views of F-14A Tomcats and Mig-29’s (for the non-need for speed fans, read as fighter jets) or in cockpit views with the actors themselves, or the fact that there was no CGA involved except for certain things like explosions means that all these real time and live action shots had to be co-ordinated and trained for by the entire team making the movie. Whether it’s piecing together the action shots performed by the professional fighter pilots, or co-ordinating the same shots with the shots that involved the actual actors, all the while shooting as they hurtled through the air at supersonic speeds with such little margin for error just shows what a brilliant, and obviously eye catching job the production and direction team have done in this film.
The acting is my favourite aspect of this film, and that is best summed up when I say that the performances pull you in and really do make you believe that you are watching what an actual fighter pilot goes through when they experience situations like Maverick does, and all the different perspectives and lives around a fighter pilot like him. The realism problem is something that I will address in a bit. While the acting was brilliant, I do have slight issues with the screenplay, and that has a lot do with how realistic the fighter jet sequences are in the film. A prominent example of that is during the first briefing at Top Gun (for military noobs, The Navy Fighter Weapons School) when Maverick talks about how he was in an inverted negative 4G dive with a Mig-29. For anyone who doesn’t know physics, to put it simply, if you’re in a negative 4G dive, even with the best pilot gear available, you will die because your head WILL pop off. While the fighter jet maneuvers themselves are realistic for sure, some information given out as a result of the screenplay is a bit inaccurate. To quote the infamous man in the film known as ‘Slider’ “(coughs) Bullshit”.
This is it, the best part of the film. Boy oh boy, let me tell you that the way these two aspects of the film tie-in together, it really becomes the best selling point of the film. The action shots, especially with the fighter jets, the pseudo-cobra maneuvers performed by big bulky F-14 Tomcats, the fighter jets launching from air carriers, the in cockpit views, and especially the dog fighting sequences between the F-14s and the Mig-29s, and the way the presence of tracks throughout the movie evokes every single feeling that Tom Cruise feels inside you as well and that really is the highest compliment I can pay to any movie. Brilliantly shot scenes, beautifully composed score, there really is nothing to fault in this department when it comes to this film. No ‘Danger Zone’ here XD!!!
Ending this, I’ll just say that this is a must watch film, and that’s pretty much it. Go and watch this film, you won’t regret it let me tell you that for sure.
Karn Kasturi Sharma