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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 20, 2022



OUR SON told me he already got us tickets for the opening day of “Top Gun, Maverick” at IMAX on Wednesday. 

He says “Top Gun” was one of the most memorable films of his childhood, along with “Aliens 2”. They were both shown in 1986 when he was 8 years old, the age of his own son now, Miguel. 

“Top Gun” was the film that made Tom Cruise an action star. Two years earlier, he gained teen stardom in “Risky Business” when he was 21. “Top Gun: gave him the chance to do acclaimed films like “Rain Man”, “The Color of Money” and “Born on the 4th of July”. 

He has won 3 Golden  Globes for “Born on the 4th”, “Jerry Maguire” and “Magnolia”.  In the Oscars, he’s been nominated three times but has yet to win. 

Through the years, he is able to maintain his status as one of the most bankable Hollywood stars, what with the huge success of his franchise film series “Mission Impossible” where he plays the iconic Ethan Hunt in six films. 

“Top Gun” was one of the biggest hits of 1986. Its production budget was only $15 million but it earned $356 million worldwide and became a cult favorite. 

The scene we most remember in it is Tom Cruise singing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” acapella to Kelly McGillis the first time he meets her in a bar, without knowing she is one of his instructors in Top Gun.  

But its other song, “Take My Breath Away”, sung during their love scene, won the Oscar for best original song. 

Before watching “Top Gun: Maverick”, we decided to watch again the first one, which has already been re-released in 2013. 

After 36 years, it still holds. The direction by Tony Scott (we really liked his “True Romance”) is first rate and Tom Cruise’s larger-than-life charisma really leaps out of the screen.  

Tom plays Lt. Pete Mitchell, a Navy pilot better known for his nickname, Maverick. 

He and his partner, Goose (Anthony Edwards), are sent for further training to Top Gun, the Naval Fighter Weapons School for elite naval pilots in San Diego, California. Tom Cruise as Maverick is very individualistic, reckless and cocky. 

He’s not above breaking the usual rules of engagement just to achieve what he wants. 

His chief rival, Iceman (Val Kilmer), lambasts him for his attitude that even puts his best friend Goose in jeopardy. 

Their chief instructor, Viper (Tom Skeritt), tells him that he admires his flying skills but he should learn the value of team work. 

Maverick and Iceman become the top competitors for their school’s top post, the Top Gun trophy. 

A tragedy happens and Maverick feels so guilty about it he considers retiring. His own father, Duke Mitchell, was a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War who disappeared mysteriously and this is an unresolved issue for him. 

Maverick is in the dark as to what really happened to his dad as the case is considered classified information. 

The film hits an emotional mark with this angle as Viper, hoping to console him and for him to regain his self confidence, reveals to him that his father actually died a hero. 

Maverick then chooses to continue with his flying career and in a climactic air battle, proves that he can also be a good team player when he decides not to abandon Iceman while they are facing great danger.    

One thing very obvious in watching “Top Gun” is how Tom Cruise has managed to preserve his good looks. He will be 60 years old in July and there are now lines here and there, but he didn’t put on any weight and his star quality remains intact.  

Most of his co-stars are now retired, like Kelly McGillis, whose most memorable movie after this is “The Accused”, where she played the feisty lawyer of Jodie Foster, who won her first Oscar best actress plum in this movie. 

Val Kilmer still appears in films every now and then but he is now old and fat.

Anthony Edwards is still around (last seen in the TV series “Inventing Anna”), but he’s now bald. 

And yes, playing a supporting role as his wife in “Top Gun” was Meg Ryan, who’d later zoom to stardom in “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle”, but whose career suffered after her affair with Russell Crowe. 

The film is very well photographed with the aerial dogfight scenes spectacularly shot.  Scott got some incredible shots by putting cameras on the fighter jets to get some stunning footage that makes you feel you are flying right alongside Tom Cruise in his plane. 

Mind you, this was filmed before CGI’s became the norm, so we’re curious as to how they’d film the aerial scenes in the new “Top Gun” movie which is named after Tom’s character, Maverick.  

In all fairness to the F-14 fighter jets, they come out as stars in their own right in the aerial maneuvers. 

It’s all very entertaining and packed with adrenaline. 

Going back to Tom Cruise, it’s obvious that he doesn’t feel insecure about his lack of height. 

He’s only about 5’6” but here, he doesn’t mind doing scenes with much taller actors like Anthony Edwards who’s about a head taller than him. Even Kelly McGillis looks taller than him, but he doesn’t seem to care.