Tom Cruise (Mission Impossile)
Kelly McGillis (Private Sessions)
Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Anthony Edwards (The Forgotten)
Tom Skerritt (Knight Moves)
Michael Ironside (McBain)
John Stockwell (Operation Intercept)
Rick Rossovich (The Terminator)
Tim Robbins (Antitrust)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Meg Ryan (Anastasia)
United States Naval Aviator LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and his Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw fly the F-14A Tomcat aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65). They, with Maverick’s wingman “Cougar” and his RIO “Merlin”, intercept fictional Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-28s over the Indian Ocean. Cougar is engaged by a hostile aircraft and afterwards is too shaken to land, despite being low on fuel. In defiance of orders, Maverick aborts his landing and assists Cougar despite also being low on fuel. Cougar gives up his Wings of Gold, citing his newborn child that he has never seen. Despite his dislike for Maverick’s recklessness, CAG “Stinger” sends him and Goose—now his top crew—to attend the Top Gun school at NAS Miramar.
Maverick flies recklessly in part to compensate for his father Duke Mitchell, a Naval Aviator with VF-51 aboard the USS Oriskany (CV-34) during the Vietnam War. The elder Mitchell died when his F-4 Phantom II was shot down in an incident Maverick refuses to believe was his fault. Goose is cautious and devoted to his wife Carol and child. The two officers are nonetheless close friends and effective partners. At a bar the day before Top Gun starts, Maverick, assisted by Goose, unsuccessfully approaches a woman. He learns the next day that she is Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood, an astrophysicist and civilian Top Gun instructor.
Maverick’s reckless flying both annoys and impresses LCDR Rick “Jester” Heatherly and other instructors. He defeats Jester in combat but breaks two rules of engagement in the process; becomes a rival to top student LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, who considers Maverick’s methods “dangerous”; and continues to pursue Charlie. During class she analyzes Maverick’s engagement with the MiG-28, calling it “an example of what not to do”. Later, Charlie admits to him that she admires his tactics but criticized them to hide her feelings for him from the others, and they begin a relationship. During a training sortie Maverick abandons his wingman “Hollywood” to chase chief instructor CMDR Mike “Viper” Metcalf. Although Maverick effectively challenges the older pilot, Viper maneuvers Maverick into a position from which his wingman Jester—who has already defeated Hollywood—can shoot down Maverick from behind, demonstrating the value of teamwork over individual ability.
Near the end of the training program, Maverick and Iceman both chase Jester; the latter attempts to gain a missile lock on the target. Under pressure from Maverick, Iceman breaks off the engagement. Maverick’s F-14 flies through the jet wash of Iceman’s aircraft and suffers a flameout of both engines, entering a flat spin from which he cannot recover, forcing him and Goose to eject. Goose ejects directly into the jettisoned aircraft canopy, killing him instantly.
Although the formal board of inquiry clears Maverick of responsibility, he feels guilt for Goose’s death, losing his aggressiveness when flying. Charlie and others attempt to console him, but Maverick considers retiring. Unsure of his future, he seeks Viper’s advice. Viper reveals that he served with Maverick’s father in VF-51, and tells him classified details that show that Duke Mitchell died heroically. He informs Maverick that he can graduate from Top Gun if he can regain his self-confidence. Maverick chooses to graduate, but Iceman wins the award for top pilot.
During the graduation party Iceman, Hollywood, and Maverick are ordered to immediately report to Enterprise to deal with a “crisis situation”, providing air support for the rescue of a stricken communications ship that has drifted into hostile waters. Maverick and Merlin are assigned to one of two F-14s as back-up for those flown by Iceman and Hollywood, despite Iceman’s reservations over Maverick’s state of mind. The subsequent hostile engagement with six MiGs sees Hollywood shot down; Maverick is scrambled alone due to catapult failure and nearly retreats after encountering circumstances similar to those that caused Goose’s death. Upon finally rejoining Iceman they shoot down four MiGs and force the others to flee, and return triumphantly to Enterprise. Offered any assignment he chooses, Maverick decides to return to Top Gun as an instructor. At a bar at Miramar, Maverick and Charlie reunite.
An early Tom Cruise film, and an early Tony Scott film, this must surely be one the best in it’s genre.