I’m not sure what it is about Days of Thunder that I’ve always loved, but I just have. The story is fairly generic, the characters aren’t fleshed out in any way that makes them overly memorable and it’s all pretty paint-by-numbers as a whole; but there’s just something about it that always pulls me in and keeps me buckled in and fully entertained until the very end.
The movie sees Director Tony Scott and Tom Cruise reunite after their hugely popular Top Gun four years prior. While the film captures that same dynamic look that Scott achieved in Top Gun (only this time in the driver’s seat of a stock car instead of the cockpit of a jet,) Days of Thunder never did reach even half of the domestic box-office that their previous collaboration did.
That said, when you think of classic Tom Cruise films, Top Gun and Days of Thunder are often mentioned on the same list, as even though it may not have brought in the numbers back then, the movie is still a classic Cruise role from early in his career. It’s also awesome to go back to it after a number of years and see all the actors you didn’t recall being a part of it. Like Michael Rooker place Cruise’s nemesis early on in the movie, and Randy Quaid is actually really solid here. And while I remembered Robert Duvall was basically Cruise’s father figure/mentor in the film, he’s just so easy to watch here.
Even with its shortcomings, Days of Thunder is just a fun movie and sometimes that’s all a movie needs to be. Scott gets the viewer right into the car alongside the drivers as well as getting the camera into some great positional shots during the race that just amps up the intensity tenfold. Add on Hans Zimmer’s score and you’ve got some really fantastic racing sequences that are completely engrossing.
It also doesn’t hurt that Crusie’s character’s name is Cole Trickle, which I’ve always thought was just such a cool movie name. It’s that type of name the character says and it just makes you go, “Ah, what an awesome name. That’s the name of someone who would drive a race car.” Or maybe that was just me.
Still, I have to throw out the recommendation of Days of Thunder to those in the newer generations who may have never seen it, if not just for the great racing scenes and beautiful direction of Scott. Plus, as is often the case in my experiences, you can rarely go wrong with a Cruise movie if you’re looking for pure entertainment.
The 4K release of Days of Thunder is the one to own if you’re looking to upgrade. The 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR is just the best the film has ever looked. There’s still plenty of grain, but it just works and as a whole there’s so much extra definition to be found here for those that want to see this film using the latest technology. Any hiccups in the visuals are just a product of the time or decisions made while filming, as everything that could look clean, clear and upgraded does.
Of the three new 4K Cruise releases, Days of Thunder was the only one that didn’t get a full audio makeover, which is unfortunate as hearing those engines roar is one of the big highlights of the film – and I’m not even a car guy. That said, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 still sounds great and works well alongside the visual upgrade; it just would’ve been nice to have gotten both simultaneously.
**NEW** Filmmaker Focus – This is the new featurette added to the disc, which sees producer Jerry Bruckheimer talk about the making of the film and the challenges that came with it. He also talks about Robert Duvall and Nicole Kidman and working with them. It’s a quick extra at just over 6-minutes in length, and I’d have to think there was a reason but it would’ve been great to have heard from Cruise here too and his thoughts on how the film holds up, and his input on the story and so forth.
Isolated Score – If you’re a fan of Hans Zimmer then knock yourself out listening to his work here. It’s not a special feature on its own, but can be chosen from the languages menu for those interested.
Paramount Pictures Presents Days of Thunder. Directed by: Tony Scott. Written by: Robert Towne. Starring: Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Nicole Kidman, Randy Quaid, Michael Rooker, Cary Elwes. Running time: 107 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray: May 19, 2020.
Tags: Cary Elwes, Days of Thunder, Michael Rooker, Nicole Kidman, Randy Quaid, Robert Duvall, Tom Cruise, Tony Scott, Top Gun