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Days of Thunder (1990)



Average Rating: 4.7/10
Reviews Counted: 44
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 26

Days of Thunder has Tom Cruise and plenty of flash going for it, but they aren't enough to compensate for the stock plot, two-dimensional characters, and poorly written dialogue.


Average Rating: 5.3/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 4

Days of Thunder has Tom Cruise and plenty of flash going for it, but they aren't enough to compensate for the stock plot, two-dimensional characters, and poorly written dialogue.



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Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 131,251

My Rating

Movie Info

The Top Gun team of producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, director Tony Scott, and superstar Tom Cruise reunite for this excursion into stock-car racing that incorporates the vroom and rumble of deafening car engines with a rehash of the same elements that worked so effectively in Cruise's Top Gun, The Color of Money, and Cocktail. Cruise plays stock-car driver Cole Trickle, a young fireball on the Southern stock-car circuit who has loads of talent but no conception of how to channel that


Drama, Action & Adventure, Romance

Robert Towne

May 25, 1999

Paramount Home Video

Watch It Now



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All Critics (44) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (18) | Rotten (26) | DVD (15)

Days of Thunder zigzags between exploiting Cruise's likable grin and charming vulnerability and portraying him as an emotional loser. It's an uncertain and unsatisfying mix.

May 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are plenty of soulless movies around. What's special about Days of Thunder is that it works overtime trying to convince you it's not one of them.

May 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In 1990 the people who brought you Top Gun -- Tom Cruise, director Tony Scott, and producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer -- figured out a way to take more of your money, and it involved stock-car racing.

May 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A flashy, pre-packaged racing picture featuring stock cars and stock situations.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's one thing to market a film solely on the strength of its star. It's quite another to go ahead and make the film that way.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer have raised formula films to a science.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It oughtn't be good, at least. Not with that script. And yet it's so much better than the combined quality of its elements.

July 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Trashy, formulatic thriller actioner, directed by Tony Scott, who had earlier helmed the 1986 Top Gun, which catapulted Tom Cruise to stardom.

April 12, 2012 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Days of Thunder retains a few moments of startling competency, though overall it's an inconsistent feature film -- not always providing the thunder, though the Cruise is well taken care of.

June 28, 2010 Full Review Source:

A sad example of Hollywood at its weakest and a reminder that even today's pabulum, spoon-fed as it is in multiplexes, is rarely as bad as the early roaring 1990s.

April 20, 2009 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Incredibly uneven yet basically entertaining...

January 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

The story is predictably pedestrian, the conflict laughable and the dialogue too lifeless to be laughable, but closer to that than convincing or compelling.

January 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

When it's on the racetrack, it's thrills abound as the big sound and fast-moving cars make for sensory overload. However, when the action fades and it's time to give the characters some meat.

December 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Views

An unofficial "sideways sequel" to Top Gun...except with national treasure Robert Duvall in the role of crusty mentor.

December 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

If you liked Top Gun, you stand a good chance of liking Days of Thunder.

December 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A film in desperate need of a pit stop.

May 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

For die-hard Cruise fans and car mechanics only.

May 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

No one really expects an action movie to resonate with profound meaning, but the shallowness of Days of Thunder is extraordinary even by genre standards.

May 7, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The film's whole narrative structure begins to disintegrate on the second viewing, if it hasn't already done so on the first.

July 21, 2006

Completely preposterous (I had no clue that Nascar allowed essentially bumper car antics), but nevertheless entertaining.

January 9, 2006

The beginning of the Tom & Nicole saga.

October 18, 2004

Days of Heaven is a compelling adventure story and a riveting meditation on the soulscape of America.

January 24, 2004 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice | Comments (2)
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Days of Thunder

Dr. Claire Lewicki: You and Rowdy have the same sickness, it's called denial and it's probably going to kill you both.

"Cruise like Thunder"

Days of Thunder is a decent, entertaining action thriller that is extremely similar to another Tony Scott, Tom Cruise collaboration, Top Gun. The movie manages to entertain when on the racetrack like Top Gun was able to entertain when in the air, but like Top Gun on the ground; Days of Thunder suffers when away from the race track. Tony Scott can always keep the corniness coming though, with scenes like the two race car drivers racing each other in wheelchairs in the hospital after a crash. 

Cole is a young and unknown stock car driver who is brought on to drive a race car for a used cars salesman and a man named Harry who has a lot of experience with stock cars is hired to build the car and lead the team. Soon Cole, after some growing pains, is one of the best drivers out there, until a crash puts him out for awhile. In the meantime, he meets an attractive doctor, who he forges a relationship with, but he struggles to get his confidence back with the race car.

Like I said away from the track the movie falls apart. I like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and I've seen them on screen with good chemistry before, but here it's just dead. Probably has more to do with writing then anything else as those two weren't horrible, the scenes with them together just didn't go anywhere.

All in all this is a forgettable racing thriller with a solid cast and a noteworthy director who always seems to let style and "coolness" overweigh substance. Still there's always fun to be had with a Tony Scott film as longer as you're willing to accept it for what it is. It's a popcorn flick and nothing else. I wouldn't say it's worth a look, but it certainly isn't so bad you'd feel you'd wasted your time. Then again maybe you would.
September 21, 2013
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

You can't outrun the thunder.

Very good movie! I enjoyed it from beginning to the end. Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall did an excellent screen combo. I think the supporting cast was good also. Very nice ending full of adrenaline!

Days of Thunder revolved around a talented, hot-shot auto racing rookie, (# 46 and 51) Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise), who, after trying his hand in the American open wheel ranks, seeks to win on the NASCAR circuit. His mechanic mentor, Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall), acts as his crew chief. He also develops a romantic relationship with Dr. Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman), a young brain surgeon who tries to tame him. Lo and behold, just when he thought it was safe and easy to get back into a race car and drive, an arrogant and dangerous newcomer by the name of Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes) doesn't make it easy on him as he picks on him because he knows he can get away with it since not only did he substitute drive Trickle's Pink Superflo car while Cole was in the hospital, but now he is teammates with him under the selfish, bullheaded car owner Tim Daland (Randy Quaid) as the new superstar Nascar was looking for with Rowdy Burns out.
August 2, 2011
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Very much the same style as Top Gun, a perfect match between Tom Cruise and Tony Scott. I think it's often mistaken as a mindless nascar film, when it's really much more than that. It really works on sort of an operatic level, saying a lot about trust and determination. You can't really pick anything out that is bad about this, it's just way too much fun and harmless. Tom Cruise is perfect as Cole Trickle, the greatest Nascar driver to ever live. It's also a great start by Nicole Kidman, the Australian doctor from heaven.
March 19, 2010

Super Reviewer

This film has a great message: Never Give Up! When you try but fail, try even harder to get what you want! This movie is amazing!
January 18, 2010
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

    1. Jack Man Cole's Crew: Sugar...Sugar. [asking Cole Trickle for sugar for coffee through ajar door]
    – Submitted by Mark S (18 months ago)
    1. Harry Hogge: You stay out of that car. If you get back in that car, you'll die. You hear?
    2. Cole Trickle: I'm not getting back in my car, I'm getting in Rowdy's.
    – Submitted by Jonathan G (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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