Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Top Gun (1986) ***

PG, 110 min.
Director: Tony Scott
Writers: Jim Cass, Jack Epps Jr., Ehud Yonay (magazine article “Top Guns”)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt, Michael Ironside, Meg Ryan, Rick Rossovich, Barry Tubb, Whip Hubley, Tim Robbins, John Stockwell, Clarence Gilyard Jr., James Tolkan

Last Sunday we lost one of the most influential filmmakers of the 80s. “Top Gun” is one of the main reasons why. Tony Scott was never one of my favorite directors. “Top Gun” wasn’t my favorite movie of his, but it was my dad’s. My father was a Marine Corps. fighter pilot. He flew A4s in Vietnam and F4s before he retired from active duty. “Top Gun” may have been his favorite movie of all time.

My dad didn’t fret about the inaccuracies of how the Navy was depicted or how the planes were operated or about the improper protocol that can be found everywhere in the movie. I think that’s because Scott got the most important thing right about the military life of that time—the spirit.

There is a competitive camaraderie that is depicted between the fighter pilots and the superior officers that the movie highlights. In retrospect many of the behaviors in the film having been criticized and ridiculed for their homosexual undertones. I don’t know if anything like that is intentional or not. I certainly see it, especially in the first half of the movie. My dad never saw it though.

It was that spirit I described that dad remembered from his military service. The hi-fives, the bigger than life personas, the thinking that they’re cooler than anything else on the planet, even the reality checking of their superiors. This is what my dad loved about this movie. I think it’s what everybody who lived in the 80s liked about this movie. It was the decade that Nike closed out by telling people to “Just Do It!” That was the attitude that everyone embraced in the 80s. That’s the attitude behind Scott’s iconic movie. This movie just did it.

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