Days of Thunder (1990)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: 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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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 talent in to racing success. When Tim Daland (Randy Quaid) commissions veteran stock-car racer Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) to built a car and hires Cole to drive it, Harry must instill in Cole his philosophy of winning and teach him how to channel his raw talent into success -- or, as Harry puts it, "controlling something that's out of control." Cole immediately comes into conflict with the circuit's star driver, Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker), and their hijinks on the track causes them to smash up their cars and lands them both in the hospital. Because of his injuries, Rowdy is forced to withdraw from the circuit competition. With no rival to torment, Rowdy becomes Cole's supporter and friend, while Cole revs up his motors for Dr. Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman), the attractive brain specialist who supervises Cole's recovery from the crackup. Cole's health is restored, and he begins to race again, chastened and hanging onto Harry's every word. Cole appears to have centered himself for success, but in an orgasmic grand finale, Cole must compete against Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes), a dastardly driver who not only wants to see Cole defeated but permanently disabled. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
Rating:
R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre:
Action & Adventure , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Paramount Home Video

Cast

Tom Cruise
as Cole Trickle
Robert Duvall
as Harry Hogge
Nicole Kidman
as Dr. Claire Lewicki
Randy Quaid
as Tom Daland
Cary Elwes
as Russ Wheeler
Michael Rooker
as Rowdy Burns
John C. Reilly
as Buck Bretherton
J.C. Quinn
as Waddell
Don Simpson
as Aldo Bennedetti
Caroline Williams
as Jennie Burns
Donna Wilson
as Darlene
Chris Ellis
as Harlan Hoogerhyde
John Griesemer
as Len Dortort
Barbara Garrick
as Lauren Daland
Stephen Michael Ayers
as Jack Man, Cole's Crew
Peter Appel
as Tire Carrier, Cole's Crew
Mike Slattery
as Front Tire Changer, Cole's Crew
Tania Coleridge
as Russ Wheeler's Girlfriend
Jim Grimshaw
as Hardee's Pit Crew Chief
Leilani Sarelle
as Female Highway Patrol Officer
Nick Searcy
as Highway Patrol Officer
Michael Burgess
as Young Doctor
Jerry Molen
as Dr. Wilhaire
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Days of Thunder

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (17)

Like the previous Simpson-Bruckheimer pictures, it's designed to give audiences an overdose of the thrill of victory; it wants us to jump out of our seats, pumping our fists in the air and roaring for the hero to pulverize his opponents.

Full Review… | May 20, 2014
New Yorker
Top Critic

This is the kind of monstrously overgrown commercial movie that depends entirely on the microscopic pleasures of having one`s most routine expectations fulfilled.

Full Review… | May 20, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Whoosh!! Days of Thunder just streaked in, fast as a race-car paint job and about as flat.

Full Review… | May 20, 2014
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Not only does Days of Thunder disappoint on the basic narrative level, it is also a peculiarly thrill-less action movie. Shot from the driver's point of view, the race sequences lose their novelty as swiftly as a video game.

Full Review… | May 20, 2014
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Days of Thunder does accomplish the job it sets out to do. It's sometimes funny, sometimes exciting and never too boring or offensive. In a disappointing movie season -- as this one has started out to be -- that can seem like quite an accomplishment.

Full Review… | May 20, 2014
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Good writing by Robert Towne and a host of strong supporting performances complement the on-the-track visuals of director Tony Scott in giving us a sense of the leap of faith that is required by drivers at this level.

Full Review… | May 20, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Days of Thunder

Like Top Gun with racing stock cars, it may not be really original and is quite predictable actually, but it has a very good soundtrack and Tom Cruise injecting a lot of energy into a two-dimensional character who lacks sufficient depth and motivation for us to care.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Melvin White
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.

Manu Gino
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

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