There's a movie where Tom Cruise stars as a cocky guy with specialized skills and a lot of daddy-abandonment issues. He excels at his chosen pursuit until he's sidelined by a crisis of confidence, but after hearing a pep talk, he climbs back in the saddle and wins the day. Okay, that could be just about any Tom Cruise movie, but the one that really set the pattern is 'Top Gun,' released 25 years ago this week, on May 16, 1986. Not only is it the signature movie of Cruise's career, it's pretty much the signature movie of the entire 1980s.
At the height of the Cold War and the gung-ho Reagan era, 'Top Gun' played like a naval recruiting ad crafted by MTV. The macho camaraderie among the Navy pilots-in-training, the awesome (and awesomely expensive) military hardware on display, the flight montages set to carefully chosen rock anthems -- all date the movie, though its impact is felt to this day.