137 user 84 critic

Days of Thunder (1990)

PG-13 | | Action, Drama, Sport | 27 June 1990 (USA)
0:11 | Trailer
A young hot-shot stock car driver gets his chance to compete at the top level.


Tony Scott


Robert Towne (story), Tom Cruise (story) | 1 more credit »
2,995 ( 52)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Cruise ... Cole Trickle
Robert Duvall ... Harry Hogge
Nicole Kidman ... Dr. Claire Lewicki
Randy Quaid ... Tim Daland
Cary Elwes ... Russ Wheeler
Michael Rooker ... Rowdy Burns
Fred Thompson ... Big John (as Fred Dalton Thompson)
John C. Reilly ... Buck Bretherton
J.C. Quinn ... Waddell
Don Simpson ... Aldo Bennedetti
Caroline Williams ... Jennie Burns
Donna W. Scott ... Darlene (as Donna Wilson)
Chris Ellis ... Harlem Hoogerhyde
Peter Appel ... Cole's Crew
Stephen Michael Ayers ... Cole's Crew


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 <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You can't outrun the thunder. See more »


Action | Drama | Sport


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


During the Darlington race in which the two movie cars appeared in, Neil Bonnett, one of the drivers interviewed at Daytona before the race, was nearly killed in a serious accident. Ironically, Bonnett was killed in a crash during a practice at Daytona in 1994. See more »


Cole's collar in the dressing room before the Daytona 500. See more »


Tim Daland: I had sponsors in from all over the coast and I'm hugging, and holding hands, and praying for a good showin'. And what do we do? We end up looking like a monkey fucking a football out there. Everybody out, please.
See more »


Spin-off Days of Thunder (1990) See more »


You Gotta Love Someone
Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Performed by Elton John
Produced by Don Was
Elton John courtesy of MCA Records and Phonogram U.K. Limited
See more »

User Reviews

some good Towne-script moments and a superb cast, but...
26 July 2015 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

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

10 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 137 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.


Official Sites:

Official Facebook




English | French

Release Date:

27 June 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Days of Thunder See more »


Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,490,445, 1 July 1990

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (analog 70 mm prints)| CDS (digital 35 mm and 70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (analog 35 mm prints)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed