5 reasons why 'Top Gun' is a cult classic

Tom Cruise in Top Gun (image via Paramount Pictures)
Tom Cruise in Top Gun (image via Paramount Pictures)

Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards and Kelly McGillis, hit theaters in May 1986. The film has remained a cult classic for decades, and it continues to be relevant in mainstream culture.

The aviation-themed drama, directed by the late Tony Scott, is a visually stunning picture with a romantic love tale at its heart.

Released on May 16, 1986, its first weekend gross in US & Canada was $8,193,052. While its worldwide collection is estimated to be at $357,288,178.

The movie isn't totally a work of fiction. The film was based on an article in California Magazine that described the day-to-day operations of the US Naval Air Station at Miramar in San Diego.

Top Cruise Top Gun (Image via Paramount Pictures)
Top Cruise Top Gun (Image via Paramount Pictures)

Tom Cruise became a true action movie star as a result of this picture. Over the years, it has become a cult classic. "I feel the desire...the need for speed!" was one of the movie's most memorable lines.

Five reasons why 'Top Gun' is considered a cult classic

1) Top Gun holds up as a patriotic celebration of the U.S.

As previously stated, Top Gun prompted a boom in Navy enlistments. It also demonstrated the power of Hollywood in encouraging patriotism. Top Gun was one of the first films to get permission from the military to use its assets on a wide basis, but it was far from the last.

The movie's celebration of patriotism holds up, even in a dated fashion.

Undoubtedly, the film is a cult classic from 1980s, blending star power, attraction, action, music, machismo, and patriotism into a singularly American package unlike any other.

2) The music is a time capsule in itself

The music in the movie was indeed a dominating presence, from Kenny Loggins' Highway to the Danger Zone to Berlin's Take My Breath Away and everything in between. The film's music was a major hit, earning nine Platinum certifications.

When it came to putting together the soundtrack, Top Gun's producer, Paramount Pictures, invited the crème de la crème of the current music industry to see a preliminary edit of the film and then suggest appropriate music for each scenario.

3) Maverick and Goose's friendship

The relationship between Cruise's Maverick and Edwards' Goose is evident from the beginning of the film. The two pilot their F-14 together, and while Maverick is the daredevil, Goose is his safety net.

Their friendship is also full of warmth and true affection for one another, which is quite an achievement in a film devoted to the manly bravado of hot shot Naval aviators. Goose and Maverick are two peas in a pod.

They adore the Navy, surging through the air, and they adore one another. It's a lovely depiction of a mature male friendship.

4) The romance between Cruise and McGillis has a huge influence

Top Gun portrayed a whirlwind of a romance  (Image via Paramount Pictures)
Top Gun portrayed a whirlwind of a romance (Image via Paramount Pictures)

In Top Gun, the romance between Cruise's Maverick and Kelly McGillis' Charlie is both a positive and negative aspect of the picture. The sensual, mysterious sequence set to Berlin's Oscar-winning song Take My Breath Away is a plus.

The negative side of their relationship is pretty much evident, from their first meeting. For context, Maverick is so cocky and aggressive with Charlie that he invades her privacy by following her into the women's restroom, to the fact that she fails to assert that she outranks him and is one of his instructors.

Despite his claims of love, relations between Maverick and Charlie (and his treatment of her) do not improve.

5) Action sequences - the fighter jets play a role in the film

Not only are the characters Maverick (Cruise), Goose (Anthony Edwards), Charlie (Kelly McGillis), Merlin (Tim Robbins), and Iceman (Val Kilmer) important in Top Gun, but so are the fighter jets they fly.

Because CGI was not very advanced or widely used outside of science fiction in 1986, the in-flight skirmishes between the US F-14 Tomcats and Russian MiG-28 fighter jets had to be shot in real time over the Naval Air Station in Fallon, Nevada.

To capture those incredible scenes, director Tony Scott placed cameras directly on the planes and also employed a camera mounted on a Lear jet.

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Edited by Sijo Samuel Paul
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