Get ready for ‘Top Gun: Maverick.’ Here’s where to watch the 1986 original

A fight pilot gives a thumbs up from the cockpit
Tom Cruise as Maverick in “Top Gun.”
(Paramount Pictures)
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With the release of the “Top Gun: Maverick” this week, now is a good time to look back at the 1986 Tom Cruise action film “Top Gun.”

While not critically acclaimed, the movie about U.S. Navy fighter pilots was the highest-grossing film of 1986 ($177 million, according to Box Office Mojo) and was pivotal in the careers of Cruise, director Tony Scott and several cast members, including Anthony Edwards (“ER”), Val Kilmer (“The Doors”), Kelly McGillis (“The Accused”), Tim Robbins (“The Shawshank Redemption”) and Meg Ryan (“When Harry Met Sally”).

The actor teams up with director Joseph Kosinski and reunites with Val Kilmer in this grander, weightier sequel to the 1986 blockbuster.

May 12, 2022

‘Top Gun’ (1986)

Rating: PG.
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Streaming: Paramount+: Included | Netflix: Included (until May 31)| Vudu: Rent/Buy | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Amazon Prime: Rent/Buy
Broadcast and cable: Paramount Network 5 and 7:30 p.m. Friday

From The Times’ May 16, 1986 review: “Top Gun” is a male bonding adventure movie that’s both exciting and disturbing, mind-boggling and vacuous. Allegedly based on the Navy’s crack fighter pilot program at San Diego’s Miramar Naval Base, it sucks us into a high-tech world of multimillion-dollar aircraft and hell-for-leather fliers — of huge carriers bobbing on gray oceanic deeps; jets streaking through vast skies piled high with clouds; heat-seeking missiles roaring toward enemy aircraft; sudden death in a wilderness of sky, water and radar screens.


You can’t help being impressed by this world — an eye-filling blowout zooming at you in Panavision and Dolby. Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (“Flashdance,” “Beverly Hills Cop”) seem frankly infatuated with a vision of the Miramar trainees as rock ‘n’ roll air cowboys. The movie shows the flyboys (an appropriate word here) either in class, the shower room, the local bars or that vast playground of the air — and in the last two, they’re drowned in pounding techno-pop.

These are pilots you might see in a Calvin Klein ad; and Kelly McGillis — as Charlie, an astrophysicist who lectures on enemy capabilities — is the one who’d be wearing the Calvins. (McGillis gives a good performance — all husky voice, smoky eyes and Bacall-ish invitation — but she seems as out of place as Wernher von Braun might be, playing the Marlboro Man.)

The movie — directed by one-time commercial ace Tony Scott— is fixated on that mythical goal: “being the best.” The trainees are a fraternity of studs — with nicknames like Iceman, Sundown and Slider — butting heads for top notch in the outfit, and the script links sexual potency with their prowess as pilots. (Read more) —Michael Wilmington