Review: [In Memory of Tony Scott 1944-2012] DAYS OF THUNDER (1990) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Review: [In Memory of Tony Scott 1944-2012] DAYS OF THUNDER (1990)

RATING: 2.5/5

The heat just keeps on coming for director Tony Scott. Here is another hit from this British-born filmmaker and this time, he collaborates with rising superstar Tom Cruise for the second time since 1986's TOP GUN as well as mega-producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckehimer for the third time in DAYS OF THUNDER. As one of the highly-anticipated summer blockbusters of the year, director Tony Scott brings the similar irresistible gimmick they once successfully did for TOP GUN and trades the film from fighter jet to stock car racing.

Tim Daland (Randy Quaid) owns a used car dealership but dreams of making his name on the stock car racing. He persuades racing veteran Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) to build him a car, on the condition that the car dealer find a suitable driver.

Enter Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise), a young hotshot who's in game for every odds and evens. Although Daland sees much of an unsuitable driver in every way, Trickle's sheer determination is highly persuasive: he wants to drive, wants to win, and is natural behind the wheel. After a rocky start, Trickle begins winning races and earns the good- natured enmity of champion Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker), a good old boy with a dream: to stop racing and work the farm he's bought for his family. Not to mention that Trickle also now has biggest rival, Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes), a pain-in-the-neck driver who has much hunger to win the race. Then one of the race gets Trickle involves in a near-fatal accident, where both he and Burns wind up at the same hospital under the care of Dr. Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman). Trickle's recovery is aided by his affair with the delectable doctor, but when he returns to the track, he has lost his edge. Soon it's Claire that make Trickle the hotshot driver he once is and ready to take another shot of his life to win the championship race.

What claimed by producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer's promises for the highly-publicized of "the most spectacular racing action ever captured on film" is certainly rings true. The racing action sequences are roaring with thunder and offers such extravagant stunts you'll see them so much reminiscent of a wild, roller-coaster ride. The highlight: the massive collision course between two stock cars crashes each other so badly like matchsticks torn apart is truly an edge-of-the-seat crowd pleaser. The technical set piece, propelled by Tony Scott's intense direction, Ward Russell's daring and very involving cinematography who also brilliantly captured the racing action sequence as realistic as possible and Hans Zimmer's music is as equally dramatic.

Unfortunately, like TOP GUN, the movie is mainly designed as a summer action vehicle where sheer excitement is all that matters and little effort on everything else. Not surprisingly, Tom Cruise's sparkling persona remains the biggest asset that drawn the film's box-office power, laden with enough testosterone-driven magnetic charm. Despite Cruise's mean-spirited performance, he is more of a caricature than anything else deeper and so does the rest of the veteran performers (Robert Duvall and Randy Quaid) who does little effort to raise above-average acting. Nicole Kidman who makes her internationally-acclaimed performance in Phillip Noyce's little-seen DEAD CALM (1989), lands her first American acting debut with a throughout magnetic presence as the sweet-looking doctor, who also looks even better in a sizzling, romantic chemistry with Cruise (As a matter of fact, their onscreen chemistry prove to be such a heat that offscreen, they get married shortly after in the same year).

Too bad Robert Towne and Tom Cruise's screenplay is a smack of swaggering mannerism and little depth but as a summer movie, DAYS OF THUNDER manages to deliver enough goods to last a few impressions. The movie grossed a fairly respectable $82.6 million at the box office and also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Sound.

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