In 1969, the US Navy created an elite school for their elite fighter pilots. Only the best of the best would come here to be trained in the art of aerial combat. It is still in existence to this day. Officially, it is known as the Navy Fighter Weapons School at Miramar. But everyone else calls it ... Top Gun.
US Navy Lt. Pete Mitchell has a need for speed. With motorcycles, woman, and most especially in the air. He lives up his callsign of "Maverick" as an ace pilot who never met a rule he wouldn't break. His reckless reputation is enhanced by his late father who was a fighter pilot himself and rumors that he was died because of his own arrogance resulting in a tragic error that cost him his life. His best friend and Radar Intercept Officer, Nick "Goose" Bradshaw is a family man with a wife and child is far more thoughtful and cautious who tries to keep Maverick's audacious behavior in check, he is only a tentative check on the arrogant young pilot.
Despite his superior's wishes, Maverick is also the only choice to send to Top Gun. Maverick finds himself challenged against the best of the best fighter pilots in the Navy. His skills in the air impresses his Top Gun instructors but his flagrant tendency to ignore the rules also earns their ire.
Maverick also quickly develops a fierce rivalry with Tom "Iceman" Kazansky while a steamy romantic relationship forms with a civilian consultant, Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood who is on a limited term contract to Top Gun.
During a routine training exercise however, Maverick's plane suffers a flameout and is trapped in a flat spin that Maverick can't recover from. Maverick and Goose are forced to eject from the plane. But Goose breaks his neck when he slams into the canopy and is killed.
Although cleared of any wrongdoing, Maverick is guilt stricken by Goose's death and his flying suffers drastically despite Charlie's attempts to console him. But Maverick is still desolate and is considering resigning from the Navy and shortly afterwards, Charlie departs for her next assignment.
Approaching the Top Gun Chief Instructor and one of the banes of his existence, Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf to announce his intention to quit Top Gun; Maverick spots an old photograph and is stunned to discovered that Viper had served with his late father years ago. Viper quietly discloses several classified details regarding his death: during a dogfight, Viper and his squadron came under heavy fire and his father's plane was damaged. Although he could have escaped, his father heroically chose to remain behind and fought a furious aerial battle to save three other pilots before he was killed. Unfortunately, the battle was not over a sanctioned area and the American planes were not supposed to be there, resulting in his death being classified and resulting in scurrilous rumors to emerge regarding the senior Mitchell's death.
Maverick decides to stick it out until the graduation from Top Gun but at the graduation ceremony, he and the other Top Gun students are recalled to active duty due to an emergency crisis in the Middle East. Iceman and his wingman, Hollywood are attacked by a squadron of Russian MiG-28s while on patrol and Hollywood is shot down and Iceman's plane is damaged. Maverick is sent to assist and mechanical trouble develops with the carrier's catapult system prevents them from sending any further assistance until it can be repaired. Engaging with the enemy, Maverick's plane suffers a similar accident and his engines flame out, resulting in them going into a flat spin.
Although he is barely able to pull out of the spin, Maverick is terrified by the near miss and the reminder of Goose's death. At first tentative in the fierce air battle being waged; Maverick ultimately pulls himself together and he and Iceman destroy several of the MiGs, forcing the survivors of the squadron to break off. Afterwards, Iceman proclaims that he would be proud to have Maverick as his wingman anytime. Cockily, Maverick replies that Iceman should be his wingman.
Subsequently Maverick learns that he is being offered any assignment he desires as a reward for his heroism and decides to join the staff at Top Gun. At a bar at Miramar, Maverick is surprised to hear Goose's favorite song playing on the jukebox and turns to find Charlie standing there and the two lovers are reunited.
- Tom Cruise as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell
- Kelly McGillis as Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood
- Val Kilmer as Tom "Iceman" Kazansky
- Anthony Edwards as Nick "Goose" Bradshaw
- Tom Skerritt as Mike "Viper" Metcalf
- Michael Ironside as Rick "Jester" Heatherly
- John Stockwell as Bill "Cougar" Cortell
- Barry Tubb as Leonard "Wolfman" Wolfe
- Rick Rossovich as Ron "Slider" Kerner
- Tim Robbins as Sam "Merlin" Wells
- Clarence Gilyard, Jr. as Marcus "Sundown" Williams
- Whip Hubley as Rick "Hollywood" Neven
- James Tolkan as Tom "Stinger" Jordan
- Meg Ryan as Carole Bradshaw
- Adrian Pasdar as Charles "Chipper" Piper
- Linda Rae Jurgens as Mary Metcalf
Top Gun debuted in 1,028 theaters in the United States on May 16, 1986 where it soared to the top number one slot on its opening weekend where it earned $8,193,052 gross. It quickly dropped to the number two slot by the next weekend but would continue to dominate at the box office, rarely dropping below the top five for the majority of its 30 week run. Nationwide, it earned a total gross figure of $176,786,701 with an international total of $177,030,000 making it the highest grossing movie of 1986.
Although it was a fantastic commercial success, Top Gun had a mixed critical response. The Rotten Tomatoes website reported that it only received a 54% “Rotten” positive approval rating.