Top Gun is kind of ubiquitous in today’s pop culture. You remember the fighter jets. You remember the iconic lines—“I feel the need. The need, for speed.” You remember the random shirtless volleyball montage. But how long has it been since you actually sat down and watched Top Gun from start to finish? Because I’m here to tell you, it’s a far better movie than you may remember, especially on 4K.
The sweaty, macho 1986 film is available in newly remastered 4K starting today on Digital HD and will hit 4K UHD Blu-ray on May 19th, and the updated version looks absolutely stunning. But of course a remaster is only worthwhile if the film itself is worthwhile, and you know what? Top Gun is a classic for a reason.
First and foremost there’s Tony Scott’s direction, which is sweaty and sun-drenched and yet poetic at the same time. The guy changed how blockbuster movies were shot (there is no Michael Bay without Tony Scott), to the point that even the lengthy opening credits of the film—which is just a montage of people getting an aircraft carrier ready for takeoff/landing—is a thing of beauty. And in 4K, the framing and sunset backgrounds are awe-inspiring. But that’s just the stuff on the ground. The aerial dogfights? Absolutely thrilling. It’s amazing how well the effects hold up in the modern era, where literally anything is possible with CG technology, but Scott built Top Gun to last. All of the action holds up remarkably well, buoyed by a tremendous soundscape that will quite literally make your walls shake.
But even beyond the gorgeous visuals, there’s a real story at the heart of Top Gun—a love story. No, not between Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Charlie (Kelly McGillis), a love story between Maverick and Goose (Anthony Edwards). That relationship is the heart of the film, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Scott packs the movie with homoerotic undertones. This is about super duper macho guys who 100% full-on love each other—probably in a platonic way, but who’s to say for sure? Maverick isn’t just bummed about Goose’s death, he mourns him. Goose was his partner, and the way Scott sets up that emotional bond between those two characters makes Goose’s death all the more impactful.
Of course Top Gun isn’t necessarily a sorrowful film. It’s emotional, but it’s also filled with joy and romance and, yes, machismo to spare. It’s an absolute blast of a movie, warts and all. Yes it’s nationalistic. Yes it’s cheesy. But the cheese is so earnest, and that’s what makes Top Gun work. You buy into everything that’s happening onscreen, however contrived or trite. That’s a testament not just to the performances, but to Scott’s direction, which so effortlessly makes every single scene wildly cinematic. So when you get to the aerial set pieces, they feel part and parcel with the rest of the film. It’s not like you take a breather between these stunning action sequences. The entirety of Top Gun is an action sequence. The action just takes on different forms.
And with the sequel Top Gun: Maverick on the way, there’s really no better time to revisit Top Gun. Seriously, sit down and watch the whole thing. It’s legitimately great! And a tremendous reminder of 80s/90s blockbuster cinema at its finest. And the Digital HD/Blu-ray release comes complete with a bevy of bonus features, including a new look at Top Gun: Maverick, a retrospective piece from 2016, and commentary by Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
Kick the tires, light the fires, and give Top Gun another spin.