Thursday, April 4, 2013

Watching Movies In Suits [Top Gun]


Suits is a show on the USA Network that one of my good friends had been trying to get me to watch for the longest time. Long story short, I finally bit the bullet. I fell in love almost instantly with the drama, humor and story being top notch. Also the sly movie references was the icing on the cake for me. They are littered in every episode and gave me this idea for a weekly blog series. Suits in short follows the story of a successful law firm in New York. Their top lawyer hires a kid who is basically a genius, but never went to law school. The kid must learn the ins and outs of working at a law firm, higher ups and with arguably the best paralegal in the city. The longer this charade goes the harder it seems that his dirty little secret will stay one. We're starting off this series with aforementioned friend's pick of movies in, Top Gun!

Suits Top Gun Reference #1
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Suits Top Gun Reference #2
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I kinda remember watching Top Gun growing up, probably on cable on something. The pure adrenaline and one liners stuck with me. Including the famous "I've feel the need, the need for speed" line. But I don't remember the emotion that this kinda well written action movie can deliver. A lot of the the 1980s movies really started a bit of a trend that even macho-action flicks could have that underlying sadness to them. Tom Cruise was just starting out and this could already be considered as one of his defining movies. But this is a movie that was kinda hard to back to for me, as most 1980s and early 1990s are as well. I don't have that connection to growing up with these movies, so I want to make that connection. If that makes any sense at all. Top Gun is about that infamous fighter pilot with one of the biggest egos in all movie history.

Top Gun follows the story of  US Navy Aviator Lieutenant Pete Mitchell aka "Maverick' (Tom Cruise) and his co-pilot Radar Intercept Officer [RIO] Lieutenant Nick Bradshaw aka "Goose" (Anthony Edwards). One day over the Indian Ocean, Cougar and his co-pilot Merlin (John Stockton and Tim Robbins) are engaged by two MiG-28s. At one point one of the MiGs locks onto Cougar before being chased off by Maverick. Upon landing Cougar retires, and despite his reckless flying, Maverick and Goose are sent to Top Gun school at NAS Miramar. We find out Maverick is reckless because of his father, who died in a crash in 1965 surrounding complicated circumstances. Goose is the exact opposite, due to him having a wife, Carole (Meg Ryan), and a daughter. Nevertheless the two are still best friends. The night before the program starts Maverick hits on a woman at a bar, Charlotte Blackwood aka "Charlie" (Kelly McGillis). It turns out she is one of the instructors for the course and has a PhD in Astrophysics. The next day at class they also meet Lieutenant Tom Kasansky aka "Iceman" (Val Kilmer) who thinks Maverick's flying is unsafe. The Top Gun class becomes more than just graduating and becoming the best student. Romances blossom, rivalries form, and things happen that will change the rest of Maverick's life. Both inside the cockpit and out.

There's a fine line between the good and bad in this movie. Cause when it's good, like the high flying aerial shots, it's spectacular. But just on the flip side, when it's bad, like the first date between Maverick and Charlie, it's pretty abysmal. But that's what kinda makes this movie. If you can get through the bad, you're rewarded with phenomenal landscape shots and high flying action unlike any other in movie history. The bad is what we'll start with, cause a lot of the time, outside of action scenes, or follow ups to them, it's pretty bad. When you have Meg Ryan has a very small supporting role, instead of a bigger role, especially after a huge (in movie) event happens, you've written something wrong. Tom Cruise does fine throughout and is definitely the guy who holds this movie together. I feel that Charlie is a very bland character who isn't much more than a love interest, which makes Kelly McGillis' acting irrelevant. Same with Val Kilmer as Iceman, a character with potential, that just doesn't quite do it for me. While the dynamic between Maverick and Goose is probably the high points of the acting. The story is kind of a mess as well, due to the fact that I had to look up a decent summary of how they explained Maverick's dad dying in the movie. Maybe it's just me being my usual dumb dumb self, but you'd think a bigger back-story would be explained well. This goes hand in hand with the overall writing though, which was highly lackluster. The story in itself is fine, but as the movie wears on it becomes a chore to keep caring about anyone but Maverick. Finally the music is very 80s and earlier, which sometimes does not lend well, at least to me, to listening nowadays.

The great in this movie is far less than the bad, but it more than makes up for it all. There are two main things that will keep you drawn into this movie. The high flying action scenes and the the writing that accompanies them. Now I know I said the writing was pretty bad, but that was for the rest of the movie, not the scenes where people are in the air. Along with the people listening in throughout the camp. Maverick and Goose's scenes in the plane are some of the best written in the movie, and it's the true epitome of what we call a bromance today. It's never a disappointment when these two are in scenes, especially if they're in the sky and/or Maverick is being yelled at by a superior. I still don't know how they could do so poorly writing everywhere but here. But I'm glad they stepped it up for the parts of the movie everyone was clamoring to see. The other thing that will make you want to watch this is the action scenes themselves. It seems like when I was watching I would stop whatever else I was doing and really pay attention to all the airplane scenes. From the drama and suspense that each scene drew in, it was more than enough to land these as some of the best action scenes ever. But, throw in the fact you're 50,000 feet in the air and you get to see amazing landscapes, cloud formations and even the occasional explosion, you're in for a treat. I love when a movie can "Wow!" me with cinematography, and this action movie no less, delivers in spades.

Top Gun is truly a half and half movie. I can see some people getting into some of the emotional stuff they toyed around with, but that is hardly the point of this. But the writing wasn't strong at all in this movie. Neither is the acting itself which came across as over the top, even for an 80s action movie. You're gonna watch this for the high flying action scenes in the sky above and a few moments of emotion that really hit you. Tom Cruise landed on the map with this and it's one of his defining movies. It's one you can look back on and appreciate if you loved it growing up. But also realize that this isn't more than a mediocre movie in the end.

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