The Eric Roberts Collection: Top Gunner (dir by Daniel Lusko)


In this 2020 film from The Asylum, Eric Roberts stars as Col. Herring.

Herring is in charge of an Air Force training base that sits off the coast of Baja California.  He’s tough and he’s no-nonsense but he also truly loves the pilots that are training under his guidance.  Sparrow (Carol Anne Watts), Cowboy (Ignacyo Matynia), and Spielman (Julian Cavett) might just be recent graduates from the Academy who have never actually served in combat but Herring is convinced that they can be amongst the best of the best.  As he puts it, they can be …. Top Gunner!

They get a chance to prove themselves when an advanced airplane carrying a U.S. black ops group makes an emergency landing at the base.  As Lassen (Reavis Dorsey) explains it, he and his people have just stolen a chemical weapon from the Russians and now, the Russians are desperate to get it back.  The weapon is continually referred to as being the CRISPR.  The word “CRISPR” is used about a hundred times over the course of this movie.  “We have to get the CRISPR!” various characters say.  The problem is that CRISPR sounds more like a name for a hamburger grill than a dangerous chemical weapon.  Seriously, who wouldn’t want to use the CRISPR to prepare dinner?  The CRISPR grills up the best burgers!

With the Russians heading towards the base, it falls on the untested pilots to take to the air and fight them off.  At first, no one has much confidence in the pilots.  Even the pilots themselves aren’t sure that they can defeat the Russians.  But you know who never loses faith?  Colonel Herring.  The Colonel may be a stern taskmaster but he believes in his pilots!

As you’ve probably already guessed, Top Gunner was meant to be a mockbuster of Top Gun: Maverick.  However, because the release of Top Gun: Maverick was continually delayed by the COVID lockdowns, Top Gunner was actually released on video a full two years before Maverick made it into theaters.  That makes it all the more interesting that Top Gunner is all about preventing an enemy nation from using a chemical weapon that, we’re told, could cause a pandemic if released upon humanity.  In a world where COVID didn’t (allegedly) escape from that lab and cause the world to come to a halt, Top Gunner‘s story would probably be described as being implausible.  However, in our current pandemic culture, it’s tempting to look at the pilots in a film like Top Gunner and say, “Where were you when we needed you?”

As you’ve probably already guessed, the budget of Top Gunner was nowhere close to the budget for Top Gun or Top Gun: Maverick.  As opposed to those two films, one never gets the feeling that the pilots in Top Gunner are actually flying their planes or risking their lives to get the shot.  The film’s plot also never makes a whole lot of sense.  But the action moves quickly and, as always, Eric Roberts is fun to watch.  His hair is perhaps a bit too long for an Air Force colonel and there are a few times when he seems to be struggling to hide his amusement at some of his dialogue.  But, for the most part, Roberts delivers his lines with the proper amount of authority.  At last count, Eric Roberts has over 700 credits to his name.  Top Gunner is certainly not the best film that Roberts has ever appeared in but it’s not the worst either.  Mostly, it’s a film just makes you happy that, no matter what else happens, Eric Roberts endures.

Previous Eric Roberts Films That We Have Reviewed:

  1. Star 80 (1983)
  2. Blood Red (1989)
  3. The Ambulance (1990)
  4. The Lost Capone (1990)
  5. Love, Cheat, & Steal (1993)
  6. Love Is A Gun (1994)
  7. Sensation (1994)
  8. Doctor Who (1996)
  9. Most Wanted (1997)
  10. Mr. Brightside (2004)
  11. Six: The Mark Unleased (2004)
  12. Hey You (2006)
  13. In The Blink of an Eye (2009)
  14. The Expendables (2010) 
  15. Sharktopus (2010)
  16. Miss Atomic Bomb (2012)
  17. Lovelace (2013)
  18. Self-Storage (2013)
  19. Inherent Vice (2014)
  20. Rumors of War (2014)
  21. A Fatal Obsession (2015)
  22. Stalked By My Doctor (2015)
  23. Stalked By My Doctor: The Return (2016)
  24. The Wrong Roommate (2016)
  25. Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge (2018)
  26. Monster Island (2019)
  27. Seven Deadly Sins (2019)
  28. Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Nightmare (2019)
  29. The Wrong Mommy (2019)
  30. Her Deadly Groom (2020)
  31. Just What The Doctor Ordered (2021)
  32. Killer Advice (2021)
  33. The Poltergeist Diaries (2021)
  34. My Dinner With Eric (2022)

2 responses to “The Eric Roberts Collection: Top Gunner (dir by Daniel Lusko)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 11/21/22 — 11/27/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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