Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick are available to rent, buy and stream.
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TOP GUN (1986)
Is Top Gun a homoerotic bromance? A brazen advert for the US military? A feature-length music video? A hormonal teenage dream? Or an opportunity to cash in on the sex appeal of a young Tom Cruise? These questions surround Tony Scott’s military action flick from 1986. Top Gun saw every viewer come away from the sweat-drenched muscles, pearly white smiles, tight white t-shirts and aviators with a slightly different perspective. It was whatever you wanted it to be.
There is no doubt that Top Gun heralded a new, Reagan-inspired vision of the American military following the anti-war movies of the 1970s. But it also wrapped this bold, star-spangled vision of combat in MTV-inspired pop. Designing a film for the new MTV generation was inspired; Top Gun didn’t need a detailed story, just a killer soundtrack, sex appeal and an emotional hook. Top Gun was the first of a new wave of music video movies. These movies would prioritise their soundtrack over their story and bathe us in perfect bodies, skimpy tops, fast action and full-blooded Americana.
Watching Top Gun now is a fascinating experience; after all, the triumphalism now seems somewhat tired, and its music video montages cover the fact that it has a faintly ridiculous story. Yet, it remains addictive and enthralling over 35 years later, and that, my friends, is down to its star. Love or loathe him, Tom Cruise is a Hollywood legend, and Top Gun is a career-defining pop culture sensation.
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TOP GUN MAVERICK (2022)
Top Gun (1986) ducked, dived and raced through a series of genres and pop culture tropes to achieve box office success. It was an 80s movie through and through and remains an action-packed, pop video-inspired love letter to a decade of bravado, confidence and capitalism. But over thirty-five years after Top Gun lit up the box office, could a long-awaited sequel do the same? After all, Maverick would land at a different time with a very different social backdrop.
As the press lined up outside Cineworld Leicester Square for the much-anticipated premiere, one question hung in the air: could Tom Cruise and Maverick save the cinema from a spiral of decline? After just over two hours, it was clear Top Gun Maverick had achieved something rare in legacy sequels; it had surpassed expectations by offering us a big-screen epic that, while far more grown-up than its predecessor, retained much of its charm. Top Gun: Maverick was the big-screen film we all needed following COVID-19, reminding us of cinema’s power to whisk us away from the shit of our everyday lives.
The plot may be ludicrous, and the nostalgia dialled up to ten, but Top Gun: Maverick is a surprisingly emotional, adrenaline-fuelled ride that even the most hard-hearted critics would succumb to. In Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise cements his place as one of the last action heroes and celebrates the soaring power of the communal cinema experience.