Tony Scott’s 1986 Tom Cruise vehicle was the year’s biggest box office hit, raking in a robust $176 million; it is also a slick, soulless monster, a 110-minute music video with all of the nuance and substance that implies. This tale of Navy fighter pilots was produced with the full cooperation and support of the armed forces, who helpfully suggested script changes to make it into the PG-rated flag-waver we know and love; once those changes were made, they got the planes and boats on the cheap — in other words, a taxpayer subsidy for what amounts to military propaganda. “What is this commercial selling?” asked Pauline Kael. “It’s just selling, because that’s what the producers, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, and the director, Tony (Make it Glow) Scott, know how to do. Selling is what they think moviemaking is about. The result is a ‘new’ art form: the self-referential commercial. Top Gun is a recruiting poster that isn’t concerned with recruiting but with being a poster.” Though it ended up taking care of the first part too—the Navy actually went so far as to set up recruiting booths at theaters showing the film—Kael was right; Top Gun became the quintessential ‘80s movie, all image and style, all sizzle, no steak.