As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.
When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete who stays with him and his former colleague.
Cuba Gooding Jr.,
Cole Trickle enters the high-pressure world of Nascar racing. He's a hot driver with a hot temper, and this attitude gets him into trouble not only with other drivers, but members of his own team as well.Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
some good Towne-script moments and a superb cast, but...
Yeah, Top Gun is the one that made all the very BIG bucks back in 1986 and put Tony Scott and Tom Cruise on the map in bigger ways then they had been before (not to mention producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer), but somehow, much as with De Palma/Pacino with Scarface and Carlito's Way, the follow-up seemed to probably be the actual better film of the two. Does this mean that Days of Thunder, following the travails of an up-and-comer racecar star (Cruise), is a really good movie? Well, in some ways yes, and in other ways not so much.
I give the production this: it moves fast and slick, and whenever cars are on the track it's visually compelling and exciting as the filmmakers know how to cut stuff together for Fast Impact (lest not forget the camera-work, filled with colors and smoke and cool contours, even a shot with Nicole Kidman standing at one point on the side of the frame is great to look at). And the casting here is fantastic; and forget Cruise, how about Robert Duvall (has he ever been anything less than solid, and here he's actually giving this conventional Trainer-cum-Mentor some soul), or Nicole Kidman (who gets really some of the best lines in the film), or Michael Rooker (by now something of an underrated character actor national treasure, and here imbuing an a-hole with a lot of sympathy and pathos)? Why not throw in John C. Reilly in there too, he has a couple of memorable moments too.
Where it flails? Sadly, and I'm not sure if this is really on Towne's end - and one should note that Cruise has his only (?) writing credit here as co-story author - or the producers, but this all the same is light-weight stuff. There's not much conflict to the proceedings, or much that sticks to the gravel, no pun intended (OK, some). This is the kind of movie that gives people like Duvall some excellent scenes to at least try to overcome the clichés of the sports movie (and make no mistake, that's what this is deep down, and a "programmer" of the old-time-studio variety, not a terrible thing inherently)... and then you got Cary Elwes as "Russ Wheeler". The last time one saw a motorist with the last name Wheeler was in a Disney Goofy cartoon about Motor Madness. And Randy Quaid, who is OK, also is saddled with some very basic material to work with here as the businessman who turns on a dime. There may be some stakes, like for Rooker's character, yet for Cruise there's not much there that makes it feel like 'Oh no, s***'s getting real here!'
In other words, Days of Thunder has some genuinely good stuff to it, and it has some personality and verve and, for a couple of moments, sex appeal in that, uh, late 80's/early 90's style (and hey, this was the movie Cruise and Kidman met after all, so you can see the chemistry as white hot as they come). But it's hard not to eye-roll at some of the story choices and character motivations, or things like, say, the movie ending on an unironic freeze frame at a very silly moment.
It's one of those things where I give it a tepid recommendation and/or a very strong put-down, if that makes sense. Quality, dumb-studio filmmaking for the masses - and, for sure, a step up from the waste of Top Gun. 6.5/10
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