A Days Of Thunder Montage Helped Inspire One Of Top Gun: Maverick's Dogfight Scenes [Exclusive]

When "Top Gun: Maverick" was first announced, few thought that a legacy sequel to the original Tony Scott-directed classic could possibly be a good idea. While many of a certain age fell for the 1986 film in a big way when it first released, those who only came to "Top Gun" in preparation for the sequel quickly discovered that it was ... well, let's diplomatically call it "a product of its time." From the soundtrack riddled with gloriously '80s needle drops to the Cold War backdrop to the way the film was shot and edited, it was hard to imagine how a follow-up could possibly modernize the story of Maverick (Tom Cruise) and tell a relevant story to a whole new generation today.

Well, the Joseph Kosinski sequel proved everyone wrong when it came out earlier this year, instantly becoming a box office hit across all demographics and proving that the franchise needn't be defined by the long shadow cast by the original. But that doesn't mean that Kosinski, Tom Cruise, and everyone else involved didn't take their cues from studiously analyzing what came before, however.

Much has been made of how "Top Gun" ended up influencing the direction of the sequel, as in /Film's recent report on original editor Chris Levinson and how he came back to assist with "Maverick." But another Tony Scott film ended up serving as inspiration for another key aspect of the movie altogether, one that most would likely never have guessed: 1990's racecar-themed "Days of Thunder."

'It was in the back of my mind the whole time'

The idea of borrowing from the best sounds easy enough in principle, but putting that into practice is another thing entirely. In a recent interview with /Film's Jack Giroux, "Top Gun: Maverick" editor Eddie Hamilton shared some eye-opening insights into how he channeled the editing style of the late Tony Scott ... by taking his cues from a very, very different movie than the original "Top Gun." In fact, Hamilton goes to far as to say that, "I wasn't aggressively pursuing a Tony Scott style, necessarily, but it was in the back of my mind the whole time."

"Days of Thunder" certainly shares some common DNA, featuring another collaboration between Scott and Tom Cruise in an unabashedly earnest story about adrenalized thrill-seekers in vehicles going as fast as they possibly can. But Hamilton found an even deeper connective tissue that could be applied in "Maverick." As he put it:

"Actually, the very first dogfight sequence where we use 'Won't Get Fooled Again' by The Who, where Maverick is shooting down the pilots and they're doing all the push-ups, I remember with Joe Kosinski — we would watch the montage from 'Days of Thunder' quite a lot, the 'Give Me Some Lovin' montage, which introduces the relationship with Tom Cruise's character and Robert Duvall's character. It crosscuts between all these different races and it's setting up the rivalry that Tom has with the other drivers. It's very efficient, indeed. It's an amazing montage and it's funny and it's full of little character beats and details."

Using that as a template, Hamilton edited down that first dogfight scene from a whopping 15 minutes to one that's under five. In many ways, Tony Scott would likely be proud of how "Maverick" turned out.