Days of Thunder is meant for a certain kind of audience, but damn if I know who that might be in 2020. While the cast is amazing and includes strong supporting turns from Randy Quaid and Michael Rooker, so much of the film feels inconsequential. A lot of that can be chalked up to the Tony Scott style in the 80s. Even his great films like The Hunger never feel like anything is said, but packs plenty of cool visuals.
Tom Cruise was in the first age of his superstardom when he turned to Tony Scott again. Scott, Bruckheimer and Simpson had ushered Tom Cruise into a new age of stardom with Top Gun. But, would America care about NASCAR? I mean, it’s not like there have been any blockbusters about NASCAR before Days of Thunder. What else do we have? Talladega Nights? That was for fun.
Jerry Bruckheimer is such a producing icon now that it’s hard to imagine that he began his career with films like American Gigolo and Young Doctors in Love. While Top Gun and Days of Thunder were his first entries into the flashy action oriented genres, he hadn’t become a stylistic mold yet. He was still several years away from working with Michael Bay, so he had to make do with Scott’s editing choices and quirky commercial tendencies.
It’s weird the movies you remember from childhood. Looking back, I saw this movie in the same theater I saw House II: The Untold Story. Another 48 Hours played in the next auditorium and the theater arcade had a full-sized Operation: Wolf arcade machine next to the Skeeball. All of this is a convenient way of saying the movie wasn’t that memorable.
There comes a time when you disassociate movies from what they are to what they meant to you. As I pour through the 4K transfer of the film and stunning Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, I’m left wondering one thing. Tony Scott made cool movies, but did he make good movies? I love Revenge, The Hunger and Man on Fire as much as the next over saturated film fan. But, what do any of you take out of tales like this?
Fun fact: there is a 30 for 30 about the guy that Robert Duvall is basically playing in Days of Thunder. I’ll include a snippet from a period TNN (The Nashville Network) piece below.