This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
In the opening moments of "Top Gun," an ace Navy pilot flies upside down about 18 inches above a Russian-built MiG and snaps a Polaroid picture of the enemy pilot. Then he flips him the finger and peels off.
It's a hot-dog stunt, but it makes the pilot (Tom Cruise) famous within the small circle of Navy personnel who are cleared to receive information about close encounters with enemy aircraft. And the pilot, whose code name is Maverick, is selected for the Navy's elite flying school, which is dedicated to the dying art of aerial dogfights.
The best graduate from each class at the school is known as "Top Gun." And there, I think, you have the basic materials of this movie, except, of course, for three more obligatory ingredients in all movies about brave young pilots: (1) the girl, (2) the mystery of the heroic father and (3) the rivalry with another pilot. It turns out that Maverick's dad was a brilliant Navy jet pilot during the Vietnam era, until he and his plane disappeared in unexplained circumstances. And it also turns out that one of the instructors at the flying school is a pretty young brunet (Kelly McGillis) who wants to know a lot more about how Maverick snapped that other pilot's picture.
"Top Gun" settles fairly quickly into alternating ground and air scenes, and the simplest way to sum up the movie is to declare the air scenes brilliant and the earthbound scenes grimly predictable. This is a movie that comes in two parts: It knows exactly what to do with special effects, but doesn't have a clue as to how two people in love might act and talk and think.