Classic movie Top Gun was not only the biggest American box-office hit of 1986, but the film also turned Tom Cruise into a bona fide movie star. The long-awaited sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, is finally set to fly into theaters next summer. Cue Kenny Rogers.
In the meantime, let's assess how well the original Top Gun has held up over the past 33 years. After all, for as iconic as the movie has remained over the past three decades, there's bound to be some wear and tear. There's also bound to be some undeniably glorious '80s stylings. Here are 5 Reasons Top Gun has aged poorly and 5 why it's timeless.
10 Wardrobe (Aged Poorly)
One of the areas where Top Gun cannot hide its age is the painfully outdated '80s wardrobe featuring some of the greatest fashion choices of the decade.
While it's true that most of the men and women stay in Naval uniforms for most of the film, there's no excusing the choice of civilian clothing. Look no further than Kelly McGillis' rolled-up blazer with swollen shoulder-pads, Maverick's bomber-jacket and ridiculously oversized Aviator sunglasses, Goose's cut-off jorts, and the like. The absolute kicker though? Maverick's snakeskin boots might make you think the film takes place in 1886, not 1986.
9 Music (Timeless)
While the karaoke scene has aged a great deal, the rest of the Top Gun soundtrack has only appreciated over time.
Seriously, who can forget the iconic opening of the film set to Kenny Loggin's "Danger Zone"? The song sets the tone for the entire movie, and frankly never gets old. The same goes for Loggin's "Playing With The Boys" and the classic Berlin track "Take My Breath Away." Some of these songs have become so synonymous with Top Gun over the years that they give the film a timeless quality. The soundtrack has gone 9x platinum for a reason.
8 Hairstyles (Aged Poorly)
Going hand-in-hand with the outmoded wardrobe in Top Gun is the equally archaic 80s hairstyles. It's time to break out the mousse for that big hair.
One need look no further than Goose's spiky flat-top, or Iceman's gorgeously coiffed blonde hairdo to see how old the movie feels. Even Goose's pencil-thin mustache sort of betrays the age of the film. But the real indicator of an aged movie in this regard has to be Charlie's (Kelly McGillis) voluminous hairstyle. Her hair is big, fluffy, teased, and totally '80s.
7 Tony Scott's Direction (Timeless)
One cannot speak about the timeless merits of Top Gun without crediting its late great director, Tony Scott. Without his deft skill and singular vision, the film would likely never become what it is today.
To his credit, the aforementioned aerial action scenes were conceived and storyboarded by Scott. His ability to capture some of the most enthralling aerial footage ever filmed cannot be overstated. Top Gun remains timeless because of Scott's inherent understanding of what makes a movie consistently entertaining. He and Tom Cruise would reunite four years later on Days of Thunder.
6 Technical Errors (Aged Poorly)
For all of Top Gun's dazzling technical marvels, there are several continuity errors that threaten the film's durability, if not credibility.
Of course, unless you happen to be a trained Navy pilot, you might not notice. For example, when Maverick is midair and "hits the breaks" by shoving the throttles forward, he would increase power and speed up rather than slow down. Less than 30 seconds later, Goose declares "We're going ballistic, Mav. go get him." However, this would be impossible because pilots have zero control over ballistic airplanes.
5 Characters And Actors Performances (Timeless)
Chances are, Top Gun would not remain as timeless as it is without the memorable characters and star-studded performances contained in the movie.
We already know that the film catapulted Cruise into movie superstardom, but his supporting cast is just as strong. Without the likes of Val Kilmer as the too-cool-for-school Iceman or Anthony Edwards as the silly Goose, the film would likely fail to retain its potency. The characters are strong on the page, but the performances by the central cast members are what really send the film into another stratosphere.
4 Volleyball Scene (Aged Poorly)
No single scene in Top Gun embarrassingly betrays its age the way the macho beach volleyball match does.
The sweaty volleyball showdown fuses many of the poorly aged aspects of Top Gun. The outdated 80s fashion, wardrobe, hairstyles, and the rest are all on full display. The suntan oil, the Hawaiian shorts, cut-off shirts, wrist-guards, tight jeans, dog-tags, and awesome 80s soundtrack all scream one thing: 1986.
In terms of the story and attitudes displayed, the volleyball scene has aged so poorly it almost makes the movie a farce.
3 Aerial Action (Timeless)
One of the most durable aspects of Top Gun is the soaring, high-octane jet fighting. Few films before or since have given audiences such a visceral, action-packed jolt of midair exhilaration.
The air scenes in Top Gun retain a timeless quality due to their stunning verisimilitude. The Navy allowed production to use F-14 fighter jets as well as the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier. A Learjet was used to film the air-to-air sequences, while ground-mounted cameras were used to capture the jets flying over land. Acclaimed pilot Art Scholl did the mid-flight acrobatic camerawork. The results speak for themselves.
2 Karaoke Scene (Aged Poorly)
One of the most cringe-inducing parts of Top Gun nowadays is the humiliatingly aged karaoke scene. It probably doesn't help that Maverick picked a song that is now 55 years old.
While serenading Charlie in the barroom lounge, Maverick enlists his Naval buddies to croon the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." The scene begins with a wager between Maverick and Goose over who can pick up a girl, which likely would not fly in 2019. The pre-recorded lip-synching of Maverick and Goose is also painfully obvious.
1 American Idealism (Timeless)
At the time, the political subtext of Top Gun may have been deemed too patriotic and propagandistic. Actor Matthew Modine even turned down the film because he thought it was too pro-military. But looking back, it's precisely the American idealism that makes the movie so timeless.
For example, the opening and closing scenes of the film feature enemy aircraft. But if you look closely, the nationalities of the pilots are never given. This adds the timeless quality suggesting that America is in a constant state of war against nameless enemies. The celebration of victory in the finale drives this point home.