x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Top Gun turns 25

We look at the legacy of the ultimate flyboy movie and consider the prospect of a sequel.

Tom Cruise stars as Maverick in Top Gun.
Tom Cruise stars as Maverick in Top Gun.

Dust-off your leather bomber jacket, dig-out those aviator shades and think up a macho call sign; tomorrow the much-loved flyboy drama Top Gun will turn 25.

The story of Maverick, Goose, Iceman and their advanced fighter pilot peers as they compete at the US Navy's top flying school earned back its US$15 million (Dh55m) production budget more than 20 times over at box offices around the world. But Top Gun's legacy has stretched beyond the boundaries of cinema.

Many who have never seen the film will be familiar with the songs Take My Breath Away and Danger Zone - both were written for the movie.

Furthermore, the saying "I feel the need...the need for speed!" has become a mantra for adrenaline junkies everywhere, many forgetting that the saying originated in the 1986 film. Here are 10 more ways in which Top Gun changed the world.

1. Cruise took control

Before he become the biggest movie star in the world, Cruise had to take the parts other actors turned down, and Top Gun was one of them.

Before the Risky Business actor accepted the role of Maverick, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Matthew Broderick, Sean Penn, Michael J Fox and Tom Hanks had all been considered. One side effect of Cruise's decision to take the role was that the actor had to wear built-up shoes, because the already cast lead actress Kelly McGillis was three inches taller than him

2. Flyboy fashion took off

Bomber jackets flew-off department store shelves as if propelled by jet engines, while sales of Ray-Ban's Aviator sunglasses jumped by 40 per cent. A quarter of a century later, and Top Gun has become one of the most popular themes for that modern masculine rite of passage; the stag do. Made-up call signs and epic high-fives are mandatory, as well as full-length green jumpsuits, white T-shirts and dog tags.

3. Being a pilot never looked so cool

Top Gun made everything about the life of an aviator look appealing. Perhaps that's why the US Navy had its highest number of applications in the year following Top Gun's release. In fact, the navy even set up recruiting booths inside many major cinemas across the US in the hope of ensnaring adrenaline-charged moviegoers fresh from screenings.

4. Job security for a jobbing director

With only one feature film under his belt when he signed-on to direct Top Gun, the British director Tony Scott struggled to stand up to the heavyweight Hollywood producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. The relationship was so difficult that Scott was officially fired from the project no fewer than three times. Following the huge success of Top Gun, Scott went on to direct a string of blockbusters, including Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State and The Taking of Pelham 123.

5. The invention of aircraft carrier rental

Although the cast and crew of Top Gun were granted unprecedented access to US Navy bases, jets and aircraft carriers, real-life service personnel carried on with normal operations during shooting. While a scene was being filmed on the deck of an aircraft carrier, the ship's captain gave the order to turn the vessel. When this ruined the lighting of the shot, Scott quickly wrote the captain a $25,000 personal cheque so that he would turn the boat back again, covering the immense cost of running the engines. Scott had become the first man to in effect rent an aircraft carrier, if only for five minutes.

6. High-flying video sales

Before Top Gun became a box-office smash, the home entertainment market was minuscule – mostly focused on obscure cinema and with many mainstream videos retailing for as much as $80 each. However, due to a link-up with Pepsi that saw (for the first time) an advert placed at the beginning of the video, Top Gun was sold for as little as $16.95. A new low price for a major film, it became one of the most successful video releases of the 1980s and is credited with inspiring millions to buy home-entertainment systems.

7. The Iceman cometh...

Maybe Val Kilmer didn't change the world with his portrayal of the aviator Lt Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, but he certainly delivered one of the most memorable performances of his career and a new type of action movie antagonist. Far from the traditional bad guy, Iceman was Maverick's strait-laced competitor, forever chastising him for "not playing by the rules". His biggest flaw was nothing more than an oversized ego. If he seemed like the perfect foil for Cruise's reckless protagonist, that's because the pair's real-life relationship was reportedly far from perfect.

8. The (un)Righteous Brothers

Perhaps the most unwelcome part of the movie's legacy is that it made too many men believe that tuneless, a cappella soul renditions can help win a woman's heart, if sung with enough gusto. While this may have been true when a 24-year-old Cruise, wearing an officer's white uniform, delivered the Righteous Brothers classic, You've Lost that Loving Feeling, attempts by most men somehow end up falling short. What's more, the fact that Maverick was accompanied by scores of fellow pilots when using the song to woo McGillis's character, means it has now become a kind of male-bonding anthem – usually sounding more like a football chant than a 1960s pop classic.

9. The rise and fall of Meg Ryan

Before appearing in Top Gun, 24-year-old Ryan's biggest role had been in the trashy horror sequel Amityville 3D. But after looking so fetching as the young wife of Goose, the actress quickly became an A-list concern. Within just a few years she was Hollywood's number one girlfriend, with roles in classic romances such as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. Ryan struggled to break out of the love-interest type, however, and in recent years her career has stalled. In 2008 she received a Razzie nomination for her appearance in The Woman and her last movie, 2009's Serious Moonlight, was panned.

10. One-way trip. For now

Unlike almost every other box-office smash of the past 30 years, Top Gun has remained sequel resistant. With a story that takes place in a real-life, annual navy flying competition, it's hard to work out how Top Gun 2: The Wingmen didn't hit multiplexes in 1988. But the movie's stand-alone status might not last forever. Last year, Paramount Pictures announced it had made offers to Tony Scott, Jerry Bruckheimer and Tom Cruise for a follow-up. Scott suggested the film would grapple with the ethics of using unmanned drones in 21st-century conflict.