Top Gun Movie Review: Tom Cruise 1986 action movie about fighter pilots

Top Gun Movie Review: Tom Cruise 1986 action movie about fighter pilots

Top Gun is a 1986 action movie about fighter pilots. The movie is action-packed, visually stunning and adrenaline-fueling. Which means it has a lot in common with blackjack real money – it gets those juices pumpin’. It’s a beautiful ode to the thrill, excitement and skill of flying. It was directed by Tony Scott and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. It stars Tom Cruise as Maverick, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, and Anthony Edwards.

The movie is set in a United States Navy elite fighter school named Top Gun. The plot of the film follows Maverick (played by Tom Cruise) as a young and talented fighter pilot trying to become the best of the best. But before that, he has to face his demons and doubts, confront the dangerous real realities of aerial combat and navigate romantic relationships.

The opening of the film has Maverick and his wingman Goose (played by Anthony Edwards) in their F-14 Tomcat fighter jet while on a routine mission. The daring abilities and skill of Maverick are immediately apparent when he takes risky manoeuvres and goes against orders to pursue a pair of enemy fighter planes. This opening is suitable for setting the tone of the rest of the film by showing us the thrill-seeking, serious, yet slightly comedic, style of the rest of the movie.

Visuals and Music

One of the unique selling points of Top Gun is its groundbreaking visuals for its time. The aerial shots of the planes through the skies are breathtaking, with sweeping shots of soaring fighter jets roaring through the air, executing daring manoeuvres and engaging in dogfights.

The fact that the movie used real aircraft and other practical effects gives the whole thing a larger sense of realism and authenticity that can be lost with modern CGI-heavy filmmaking.

The soundtrack of the film is also a notable highlight of it. It features some of the most iconic songs of the 80s. It uses the upbeat music “Danger Zone” By Kenny Loggins to capture the high-stakes nature of the film while using the slower “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin (the band, not the city) for the romantic parts of the film.

In addition to the impressive music and action, Top Gun also has a notable cast of famous, talented actors. Tom Cruise runs the show as the main protagonist and delivers it spectacularly with his charismatic and magnetic performance as Maverick.

He showcases well both the bravado and vulnerability of the character. Kelly McGillis is also equally as notable as Charlie, Mavericks love interest and his instructor at Top Gun. Val Kilmer also delivers a brilliant performance as Iceman, who is Mavericks rival in the movie but is never the antagonist of the film.

The Themes

The movie’s main theme is about the conflict between the drive to be individualistic and prove yourself while also needing to be part of a team.

Maverick is initially presented as a maverick (pun intended), a person who doesn’t follow the rules, a lone wolf who prefers to rely on his own instincts.

However, through the film’s plot, he is forced to learn the importance of his fellow pilots and working with them. Not just in the air but on the ground too.

A secondary theme of the film is the price of excellency. The pilots at Top Gun, Maverick included, are pushed to be the best of the best, but this comes at a cost. There’s a constant danger in their profession, which takes a toll on their personal lives. They struggle to balance their desire for glory and their responsibility to loved ones, family and those around them.


Top Gun is undoubtedly an entertaining and thrilling movie, but even it does have flaws. There have been criticisms of the film for the role of women in it. They are largely relegated to secondary side roles such as love interests or supportive friends. Some also bring up some problematic actions in the way Maverick acts in his relationship with Charlie.


Despite the criticisms brought up about the movie, Top Gun remains an insanely popular cult classic of the 1980s cinema. It has iconic visuals, extreme action and memorable sound design and music.

It had significant cultural impacts on people’s opinions of the Navy and its fighter pilots, undoubtedly leading some to try and pursue a career as a pilot. The film even got a long-awaited sequel almost three decades later called Top Gun: Maverick, which was released in 2022 with massive success. Top Gun can be streamed from Paramount+ on demand at any time.