Top Gun: The Ultimate Cheesefest

The 80s’ classic stands the test of time as the perfect time capsule of a weird era in American history.

Ezra James

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Photo by: CBS Archives | Getty Images

I’ve avoided this film for almost two decades. No matter how much I’ve read or seen the numerous cultural references about it, I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. Aside from the complete lack of direct interest, I was never that big of an 80s flick guy, preferring instead the hyper-consumer vibe of the 90s’ or the gritty 70s’. It was only through this recent process of extreme film binging, and the discovery of dozens of film styles escalating or de-escalating in tone and vibe as the decades pass by, that I decided it was time to give Top Gun a shot.

Now that the deed is done, I am comfortable saying this is perhaps pound for pound the cheesiest film ever created. Every single beat of this movie is a straight out of cliché. They’re so overplayed you really start to wonder what came first, the films or the cliches. Considering the number of previous movies carrying the same vibe almost to a smooth touch (Beverly Hills Cop, Rambo, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial), it is safe to say this was an infectious disease running rampant on the population on an almost psyop level.

While this may sound as criticism, it is… somewhat up to interpretation. No matter how much you try to bash the film for its clear lack of any originality or innovative desire beyond special effects, there is a hidden and contagious charm running through the course of the experience. The intro sequence is the best example of this phenomenon. Beginning with Harold Faltermeyers’ quintessential 80s’ techno sound, we are treated with a galore of exotic and mesmerizing shots of pilot jets on the verge of taking off. When they finally do, the music shifts to Kenny Loggins’ iconic Danger Zone, and you just can’t help but feel a high burst of testosterone-driven excitement. You can’t help but actually feel the excitement (and need for speed) even if you’re getting nothing out of the character interactions. I can’t really explain it folks, I’m just a witness to its effects.

As for plot, the film leaves absolutely no surprises. Everything follows an expected cohesive line, and never budges from it. Hotshot with hot temper but immense flying skills, Maverick, is sent to…

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Ezra James

Absurd journalist and essayist from the outskirts of Shambhala.