Tom Cruise had many hits in his career, and Top Gun was the movie that stuck out the most. Though Cruise had his share of action movies in the past, it is his career in action movies that made him a great figure in Hollywood.
The movie was a success in its time, but no one foresaw a sequel, especially not thirty years later. However, Cruise did the unthinkable and got together the band again with some new faces. This inevitably led people to enjoy 1986 classics and the curiosity for a film like those arose.
In lew of that, we have compiled a list of forty movies like Top Gun that you will enjoy. The list below is in no particular order. You can pick whichever ones you want from the below entries. But, if they are a sequel to a former and it was not mentioned, whether to watch the prequel or not is up to you. It doesn’t hinder the movie experience as much, but some subtexts do add to the variety in them. So without further, let’s begin.
1. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
The first entry in the list has to go to the sequel Top Gun: Maverick. The movie was a hit despite being a sequel to an age-old movie, and the reason why people decided to watch the original. Though the movie was a commercial success, it was not allowed to be screened in China due to the movie being in favor of Taiwan being a country.
Putting China’s sensibilities aside, the movie is a great watch for anyone who loved the original, and it focuses on one of the main characters as well, Maverick. You will see some old faces make a reappearance, with some new ones making their debut.
2. Pearl Harbor (2001)
Pearl Harbor is named after the surprise attack done by the Japanese military against the US military base. This one moment was one changed the events of the War that led to America coming out as the powerhouse that it is today.
The story focuses on the love triangle between three people and their life during the era of World war 2. They have chemistry with each other and are in a phase of romance that is thwarted after the USA gets involved in the War, and their lives are never the same. However, don’t take this movie for historical accuracy.
3. An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
The movie is about a boy who grown in a broken home with a womanizing father and mother who committed suicide. Having no real role models in life, our protagonist Zack decides to join when he grows up. When the time comes, he is ready to report for his duty to his office and ready to start his life.
He goes through many trials and learns the hard life of Navy seals thanks to the help of their instructor. But despite that, he still needs to overcome his past burdens, and they seem resolvable when he meets a certain woman.
4. Days of Thunder (1990)
A movie with Tom Cruise in the lead, this one focuses on the racing track life and the thrill that only they experience. Cruise’s character Cole is a dedicated racer who has his eyes on Indianapolis 500 cup. He is not a novice who has just begun his career in racing.
With victories under his name, he is sure he can deal with it. But before he participates, he wants to get his hands on a car that is different than everything he had his hands on. And as his luck would have it, someone is willing to give what he needs.
5. Iron Eagle II (1988)
Iron Eagle as a franchise is big, with four installments. The second installment in the movie starts with two pilots going in their jets and testing the new planes. They had fun while doing it, and soon they got carried away, which led them to soviet air space.
This turned into an air battle, with one of the American pilots dying on the scene. When this reached the news at home, the secretary of defense denied the incident and called it the engine fault. However, this cascade of events led to a conflict between the two sides.
6. Memphis Belle (1990)
Memphis Belle is the name given to the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber that was deployed during World War II. The story showcases the lives of the air fighters and their lives as they go into the War.
The film is a homage to the pilot of the Memphis Belle as it goes into its last mission. Its final mission is to attack the manufacturing plant in Germany with some support. However, the events lead it to be the only one to do the task, and it is up to the people in Memphis Belle to carry out the final job.
7. Black Thunder (1998)
Vince Conners is a Navy Test Pilot who is best among the best in his field. And due to his expertise, he has been called forward by the Navy to go on a secret mission to get a secret project that has been stolen by the terrorists.
The project in question is a stealth plan that can go undetected from the enemy radar and, in the wrong hands, cause massive devastation. Connor accepts the job, but all the events further have him go against the deadliest challenges he has the face and an old accomplice he didn’t think he would see.
8. R2B: Return to Base (2012)
This is a Korean movie that is heavily inspired by Top Gun, so it deserves mention in the list. Captain Jung Tae-Yoon is a talented yet arrogant fighter plane pilot who thinks there is no one better than him.
His latest talent, however, landed him in hot waters with the higher-ups, and he got demoted to another unit. There he meets Cheol-hee, with whom he comes to have animosity as soon as he meets him. The two mixed like oil and water, with their antics and understanding of each other having significant effects on events to come.
9. Flight of the Intruder (1991)
Based on the novel of the same name, Flight of the Intruder details the person of a Vietnam war Veteran. ‘Morg’ and Jake Cool Hand are best friends and brother-in-arms with their fighting plane. The two are on a mission during the Vietnam war as the War is almost reaching its end.
But they made a mistake during the mission, which led to Morg dying and leaving Jake with survivor’s guilt. But he has to face the consequences of it and tell Morg’s wife of his death and overcome the loss of his friend.
10. Behind Enemy Lines (2001)
The first movie was a massive hit that led it to become a film series held in high regard by war movie critics. Burnett is an average Joe when it comes to being a pilot in Nav forces. Unsure of his future, he decides to quit the Navy after the Bosnian War.
On his last mission, everything goes smoothly, and Burnett is relieved he didn’t have to face much trouble during his last mission. Until the last moment, he noticed shady activity in the nearby village and got himself into trouble, and called for duty over his personal life.
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11. Red Tails (2012)
Another entry in the list will focus on the war period and planes. Red Tails was the title given to the pilots given to African American pilots that fought for the American Military during the world war II era.
We are thrust into the world of Fighter planes and fight for world supremacy with America’s 332d fighter group and their struggle over the European air space against the Axis nation. The movie showcases the fight of pilots over two fronts, the discrimination they had to face during their training, and the fight they will be facing in against Axis-allied Italy.
12. Iron Eagle (1986)
The first movie in the Iron Eagle franchise that went on to become the critics’ favorite for the next three entries. Doug Masters looks up to his father for his fame and victories as a veteran airplane fighter. To follow in his footsteps, he applied for the Air Force Academy, sure that he would pass the entrance.
His hopes are tarnished as he is rejected from the institution. To make matters worse, his father has been ordered to hang for trespassing enemy forces. Seeing there is no one to see things from his father’s side, Doug takes matters into his hands.
13. Flyboys (2006)
Most entries in the film are focused on a period of World War II. Let’s focus on WWI. The War, known as the War to End All Wars, the story is about a group of Americans that go to France to serve their Air Force. They are put under the unit of Georges Thenault (a literal figure during world war I).
They will also be mentored by Reed Cassidy, who is the flying ace in the unit. France then had a policy of staying neutral in international matters until things went haywire and the American air composed got involved in the War.
14. Iron Eagle IV (1995)
The final installment in the Iron Eagle Franchise. Things are gonna settle down once and for all as we go into the final round. Doug Matters is back, and unlike the last time we saw him, he is reflecting trouble on the trouble he has gotten it now.
In the past, Doug was captured by Soviet soldiers. This happened as he was flying in their airspace and was captured on the radar, which led them to capture him after he failed to run away throughout ejection. We see him in the present reflecting on the tortures he went through.
15. Into the Sun (1991)
After the assassination of Tokyo’s governor, the CIA’s Tokyo office sends Travis Hunter and his partner Sean Macc to look into the case. The FBI suspects the assassination attempt was made by the Yakuza, Japan’s version of the Mafia.
Travis is an experienced agent in the field, while Sean is a rookie who had been placed under Travis as part of his training. The movie was made to release primarily in Japanese theatres and was a DVD release for the American audience. It is inspired heavily by The Yakuza film made in the US with elements taken from the present.
16. The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Those who are into Tom Clancy would already know what this movie is about, but here is a bit of info for those who are new to it. Russia has come up with a new high-tech submarine that could dive deeper into the sea, making them invisible.
The Submarines name is Red October. The US gets wind of this and deploys their experienced Jack Ryan on the case to deal with the Red October. If they fail to deal with this new threat, it could lead to America losing submarine warfare, which will affect the future of the country and even the world.
17. Sky Fighters (2005)
Sky fighter, or Les Chevaliers du Ciel, is a french movie that is adapted from the french comic of the same name. The comic was also adapted into a TV series for French TV networks, and it was a huge success. A group of rogues went on to Hi Jack Mirage 2000 and killed its pilot.
Two men from the French Air Force are called upon to get back the airplane and bring it back. Their attempt to recover it failed and they were forced to destroy the aircraft, leading them to be the instigators in the eyes of the French Air Force.
18. North Shore (1987)
Not to be confused with the TV series of the same name. The movie focuses on the recent school graduate Rick who is a surfer and loves to do it in his spare time. Now that he no longer has any obligations to study, he flies to Hawaii and gets certified for professional surfing.
On reaching Hawaii, he meets up with two professional surfers and learns the thrill of professional surfing. Till now, he had only known what surfing in a tank was like. Surfing in the natural waves of the ocean fills him with excitement like nothing before.
19. Aces: Iron Eagle III (1992)
The last entry of Iron Eagle in the list, as there were no more than four. Chappy is back from the first movie and is accompanied by new people to take on new challenges. Chappy has been summoned by the Air Force Base in Texas.
He learns that his friend had been shot down while on a mission, and he informs the committee about his family members. When it is revealed that the airplane was carrying it, the case becomes much more complicated, and the powers that are working behind the scenes take action.
20. Midway (2019)
Midway is a recreation of the scene in the Pacific Theatres in World War II. The events at that place changed the course of the War. The film starts with two officers on Japan’s and US’s status on the pacific front when they were attending a state function.
The Japanese Admiral warns them to stay away from Japan’s oil supply, or there will be consequences. They cut the supply, which led to the incident of Pearl Harbour, after which America entered world war II. Oh, and Nick Jonas is present in the movie.
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21. Cocktail (1988)
Another Tom Cruise film but this side focus on civilian life. Brian Flanagan finished his short tenure in the army and looked forward to big things in the big city. He hopes to make it back there, but when he fails to do so, he turns to bartend and business school in NYC.
When Brian meets Doug, a veteran bartender, he is charmed by him, and when Doug tells him, he wants to a chain bar in the country. Convinced by Doug’s idea, Brian dropped out of college to pursue Doug’s dream with him and meet new people who will help them realize the dream.
22. Rocky (1976)
Rocky is one of Hollywood’s best stories, the best underdog story that is still unmatched to this day. The story was written by Silvester Stallone, and he made sure he was the one to get the role in the film if it was going to be made. The rest is history.
Rocky has been chosen by the heavyweight boxer Creed to challenge him in the ring, and he will be given $150,00 for the gig. Reluctant at first, Rocky takes on the challenge for the money but ends up losing the match after weeks of training. However, in the process, he finds his calling.
23. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
This movie tries to depict the most detailed history in terms of accuracy when it comes to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Directed by three directors, the movie shows multiple perspectives on the Pearl Harbor incident and the sequence of events that led to it, along with the aftermath of it.
We may know what may have happened, but this film shows how it happened and what was the mindset behind those involved. The film was released in 1970 and was ahead of its time. It captured the hearts of people in both the country’s while also being historically accurate.
24. The Tuskegee Airmen (1995)
The Tuskegee Airmen delves into the deeds of the African American Pilot unit during world war II. Sounds Familiar? That’s because this movie had the same foundation as the one mentioned before. However, The Tuskegee Airmen came out way earlier, in 1995, when war movies were much more popular compared to today.
And the focus is more on the drama between the characters and less on the fights. Both movies are good for different reasons. This one’s focus on drama and dialogue makes it a classic that anyone can watch. If you like intense drama more than action, this movie is your cup of tea.
25. Only The Brave (2017)
Most movies are either based on novels or other forms of literature. This movie is based on an article. Alright, alright, it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the movie is heavily influenced by the GQ article that entails the firefighting incident that occurred in Granite Mountain Hotshots.
However, the movie failed at the theatres during its release and was not well received in the early days. However, the movie received high praise for the homage to the firefighters that were involved in the wildfire incident. For those who like realistic drama, this movie is a go-to.
1917 is a recollection of World War I from the perspective of two British soldiers who are tasked with delivering a message. The German army withdrew, which drained the tension from the opposing forces. However, aerial reconnaissance observes them putting in an attack and preparing for another attack.
To thwart their attack, they must tend to it, or there will be casualties. To make things worse, British telephone lines were cut, tying their hands for sending messages but through soldiers. The movie was a great hit in Britain and United States.
27. The Guardian (2006)
The movie is an underrated gem that people should give it watch. Ben Randall has a legendary status as the number one rescuer at the United States Coast Guard’s Aviation Survival Technician. Though, he is not this way by choice or talent.
During a past incident, he lost his team and best friend to stormwater which led gave him survivor’s guilt. This was what led him to become a rescuer, to alleviate his guilt and make sure no one ever suffers from that again. He finds some closure as the latest batch of students comes in and gives him a shift in perspective that he needs to see himself.
28. G.I. Jane (1997)
G.I. Jane is set in fictional history where the Navy seals conduct a series of tests to enlist the first woman to ever be one. This decision is reached when the Senate Armed Service is criticized for not being open about enlisting people into the forces.
This task Jordan O’Neil has been selected for the task due to her being more feminine for the task. No one expects her to be good at the training and pass the test, but to everyone’s surprise, she did surprisingly well to the point even the media was involved.
29. Crimson Tide (1995)
If you were to look at the movie posters, you would think it was, but it is an original concept that takes inspiration from the Cold War era. When Russia entered an unstable era, and the whole country was in disarray, this led to ultra-nationalists taking control of the nuclear missile and threatening to launch them at the states.
It doesn’t take long for Japan and America to get wind of this working together to stop the menace from happening. The film is similar to the Cuba nuclear missile incident, which was regarded as the best decision a man could take.
30. A Few Good Men (1992)
Based on the novel of the same name, a few good men focus on the legal conflict between the Navy and two officers who are suspected of the murder of their fellow Navy soldier. The movie focuses on the legal side of America and the drama that is going on between the people and the Navy heads.
It asks the question of what is moral and what is just and what a man should do when society questions his actions. The movie was released in 1992 and remains one of the best Tom Cruise movies.
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31. American Made (2017)
Another Tom Cruise film but this time, he is in an action comedy flick. It is based on the life of Barry Seal, who would fly drugs and establish the first Drug cartel that made it. However, when he was caught, he became an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The movie is a mix of action, comedy, and suspense. Barry, while smart, often finds himself in many situations that would lead him into hot waters. He only has his wits and humor to get out of the problem. And if that doesn’t work, his training in the CIA is his last resort.
32. First Man (2018)
Based on the novel First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, the movie is a biographical pic of the journey Neil Armstrong went through to land on the moon. The idea of a movie was conceived in 2003, but it finally began filming in 2017.
The movie was a success as a homage to the achievements of Neil Armstrong but failed to become a critical success at the Box Office. Though those were box office numbers, it has since become one of the best dramas to watch.
33. Creed (2015)
Rocky is a massive franchise, so it was no surprise it would get a spiritual successor, which was Creed. Donnie is the son of the former heavyweight champion who has now entered the world of professional boxing, and his teacher is none other than Rocky.
However, Donnie doesn’t get help from Rocky until later when he convinces the retired boxer to come back to the ring and train him. Rocky refuses in the beginning, as he has done more than his share of boxing to the point of head injury but eventually caves in to help the young boxer. The movie had a sequel in 2018, and the third installment will come out in 2013.
34. Hot Shots! (1991)
There was a time when Parody used to be a Genre in Hollywood but not so much these days. Hot Shots! is a parody of Top Gun, which gives a nonsensical twist to the plot and characters in the story. The movie was a great hit, and it also got a sequel, Hot Shots! Part Deux.
The movie also takes itself seriously when needed, but all of it leads to a big punchline that makes the jokes enticing. One of our favorite ones is when the Topper, the main character of the story, is seeping in a noodle, and it connects to his boot!
35. The Right Stuff (1983)
Based on the book of the same name by Tom Wolfe. The movie focuses on the spaceflight program that led America to make breakthroughs in the field of Supersonic jets. It details the life of people involved in Project Mercury, who later on was tested to be chosen as Astronauts. The movie has received a great number of accolades and awards on its release.
And has made its way to the national Film Registry for its diverse thinking and non-political view on the events that led to the first man landing on the moon. Despite its great legacy, the movie bombed at Box Office but made its profit through the home video market.
36. Blue Thunder (1983)
Frank Murphy is a man who is trying to put his past behind him but is haunted by nightmares of the Vietnam War. He has gone through PTSD and, as such, has been assigned by a Guardian to look after him.
Now he is a member of the Metropolitan Police Department air support division pilot with his partner Richard Lymangood, his observers. Murphy is later summoned to test the Helicopter Blue Thunder and demonstrate what the new aircraft could do for the police department on real grounds.
37. Navy Seals (1990)
The movie starts with a call for help from a civilian ship giving out a cry for help as they are being attacked by terrorists. A Navy Helicopter immediately responds to their rescue only to be captured by the attackers as their Helicopter is shot down.
This led a team of Navy Seals to cancel their leave, and one even had to cancel his wedding to answer the call. They must hurry in their approach as the Terrorists are losing all reason and have started killing the captured Navy Seal members. Will they be able to reach them in time, or will the innocents die for nothing?
38. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Saving Private Ryan is one of the greatest Epic War dramas and has gone on to have sequels. The film is monumental for its realistic display of the scene of War during the Battle of Normandy in Germany. The assault on Normandy was the single most determent in the final battle of the War and is considered one of the greater moments.
The story starts with a war veteran, now retired, who visits the Normandy Cemetery and bursts into tears as the memories of the war started flooding his mind. And then, the movie takes us to the year 1944, when the second world war is at its most fierce.
39. Airport’77 (1977)
Airport 77 is the third installment in the Airport franchise. The movie has a flight of passengers go over the Bermuda Triangle and fight for struggle. This began when the philanthropist Philip Stevens invited people to his luxury Airship along with his valuables.
This led to a crew of thieves boarding the ship, which led to the unaware and unprepared passengers of the ship being led to being over the Bermuda Triangle and ending on an Island with not much on them.
40. The Rock (1996)
Not to be confused with the wrestling persona of Dwayne Johnson, the entry is an action-packed movie with lots of intense moments. A group of rebelling Navy Seals have taken over Alcatraz with civilians on the inside. If their demands are not met, they will release chemical weapons on the city and its residents.
To combat the situation, the FBI has put together a team of people led by a former inmate who was able to escape Alcatraz along with their lead Chemical Specialist, played by Nicholas cage. The movie, despite being two decades old, still has got the charm that is no longer seen in Hollywood. With suspense and thrill that will have you on the edge of your seat.
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