Days of Thunder (1990) – Tony Scott

Tony Scott re-pairs with Tom Cruise after their success with Top Gun, add in a score by Hans Zimmer and throw in a cast that includes Robert Duvall, Nicole Kidman, John C. Reilly, Micheal Rooker, Randy Quaid, and Cary Elwes, and producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, this sounds like nothing but win, but Days of Thunder ends up being just a good movie, instead of a great movie.

It lacks the kick ass soundtrack that Top Gun boasts as well as a slightly weaker story, although, it feels like they took the general outline of Top Gun, and changed jet fighters to stock car racing. It has Scott’s signature saturated colours, and filters look, but sometimes the film feels a little disjointed, and it doesn’t hook you quite the way Top Gun did.

This time around Tom Cruise plays Cole Trickle, an intuitive stock car driver who knows nothing about cars, and Duvall plays Harry the mentor, ca-builder who guides and molds Trickle into the driver he needs to be to win.

The race sequences look great and are fast moving, it’s when the story comes off the track that things seem to stumble and slow down a bit. Cole is not as engrossing as a character as Cruise would have us believe, but Duvall makes his scenes shine, and Kidman is simply stunning in this film.

Still, every time the film takes us away from the cars, and the race, even when it throws some life-threatening injuries at the characters, you find yourself pushing at the story to hurry up, and get us back to where we know we’re going to end up, because in this film everything gets solved on the race track – the physically race, as well as the emotional and mental arcs that the characters go through.

That being said, it’s still a film I enjoy, and I love how the race sequences are shot, and for the most part the actors are solid, it’s only Cruise who doesn’t seem to have found his way in this film. It’s definitely not his best performance, but those around him help keep the material elevated. Or at least keep it fairly entertaining. We don’t get a look at a lot of the world outside of the race track, we’re either in the race, or usually in a room somewhere, so the only time the film feels like its moving is when one of the characters is behind the wheel.

It’s a fun film, looks great on your home theatre. It just needed a better soundtrack…

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