Judge David Johnson lives just off the highway to the Danger Zone.
Our reviews of Tom Cruise Collection (Blu-ray) (published November 17th, 2011), Top Gun (published June 23rd, 1999), Top Gun (Blu-ray) 25th Anniversary Edition (published August 24th, 2011), and Top Gun: Special Collector's Edition (published May 16th, 2005) are also available.
"Your ego's writing checks that your body can't cash."
Before there was TomKat there was—Tomcat!
Facts of the Case
Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible 3) is hottest of the hotshots in the Navy's fighter pilot brotherhood. An immensely talented pilot, Maverick and his BFF Goose (Anthony Edwards) are selected to attend Top Gun, the premiere flight academy for the most talented dogfighters in the world.
While there, Maverick rides his motorcycle, becomes enamored with one of the instructors (Kelly McGillis), fires up a rivalry with the Iceman (Val Kilmer), sings a bad version of "You've Lost that Loving Feeling" with Meg Ryan, pisses off the higher-ups with his immature and unpredictable antics, hangs around in his briefs, and, ultimately, kicks some serious MiG ass.
What else is there to say about Top Gun that hasn't been said before? A twenty-year staple of macho filmmaking, Jerry Bruckheimer's and Tony Scott's dog-fighting opus still stands tall as a prime example of what it means to make a movie that is packed with so much testosterone the celluloid sprouted pubes. Looking back at it now, Top Gun remains grand fun—not at as bad-ass as it may have been on the initial viewing (Tom Cruise riding his motorcycle and shaking his fist at the jets is pretty cringe-worthy and that baby oil volleyball sequence is the stuff of legend)—and on Blu-ray the classic gets a nice little makeover.
First things first: a few words on what makes TG such a memorable action flick. It's got all the necessary ingredients: a sympathetic hero in Maverick, played by a young Tom Cruise with enough wide-eyed exuberance to the role to make him fun despite his arrogance; a jackass rival, the one and only Iceman, played by a smirking Val Kilmer (who, in true method form, was apparently a real tool to Cruise during the making of the film); the ambiguous, anonymous MiG pilots who make great target practice; a superfluous romance with a hot flight instructor just because it's sorta forbidden; the death of an irritating sidekick (Has there ever been another hapless me-too character than Goose in the history of cinema? Besides Chunk from The Goonies of course); that Loggins-riffic soundtrack; and the tacked-on final action sequence that is given little explanation but who cares let's @#$% up some Commies!
Okay, so great, classic all-American actioner and arguably the harbinger of the influx of '90s Bruckheimer shoot-'em-ups that has come to expend so much more ammunition and explosive ordinance than the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Thanks, Tom. Thanks, Jerry. Thanks, Tony. Now on Blu-ray, this bad boy gets to lather up and flex its audio and visual muscles more than ever before.
The 1.85:1 high-definition widescreen transfer is certainly an upgrade from the previous home video iterations, though not so much of boost in clarity that it will be revelatory. There's a lot going on, much of it involving air-to-air jet fighter combat and Tom Cruise smirking in a bar, and, in both instances, the picture quality is impressive. The overheated venue of the Top Gun academy and its surrounding seaside settings generate robust warm color tones that will make your HDTV sweat; the real-life airborne photography with actual jets (yes!), set against the wild blue yonder, is equally great. Some moments betray their age (Maverick's motorcycle ride down the runway and, surprisingly, the volleyball match are lacking), but overall, this is a fine-looking catalog title. The sound quality is dependably aggressive: the TrueHD and DTS Master Audio tracks push the afterburner and jet-wash effects with great fervor and will shake your living room walls. And just wait until Kenny Loggins kicks in.
No high-def-specific extras, but an AWAC load of bonus materials: commentary from Jerry Bruckheimer, Tony Scott, Jack Epps, Jr. and "Naval experts," the huge, making-of retrospective, storyboards, a featurette on the real "Top Gun" academy, four music videos, TV spots, and some old-school making-of featurettes.
An iconic All-American action movie sticks the landing. Top Gun on Blu-ray is a welcome addition to the fleet.
Not guilty. You can be my wingman anytime.
Give us your feedback!
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.