Movie Critic - Days of Thunder (1990)

  • Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in
  • Tom Cruise in "Days of Thunder"

The “Days of Thunder“ is an American movie released by Paramount Pictures in 1990. It was a big box office hit and one of the best mayor racing motion picture titles. With its all star cars which include Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Robert Duvall and Randy Quaid and directing by famous Tony Scott it is best NASCAR movie ever made. Even after 25 years since it was originally released it didn’t lose any of its appeal.


Tom Cruise in "Days of Thunder"

Tom Cruise in “Days of Thunder”


The plot revolves around young and wild racing driver named Cole Trickle who moves from single seaters to NASCAR championship. After the period of adjusment to diferent type of car and racing, Trickle is fighting for the top spot on the leader board. He becomes a rival with older and more experienced colleague named Rowdy Burns, however, after the big crash at the middle of the season, both drivers are injured and forced to miss few races. Cole is eager to get behind the wheel but Rowdy’s injuries are more serious that expected. During their absence, Cole’s team finds a replacement driver and his career is at stake so Burns offers Trickle a chance to fill his place instead and fight his ex team for the title.


Movie poster for "Days of Thunder"

Movie poster for “Days of Thunder”


As in every NASCAR movie, the plot is loosely based on a real events and real people. The main character is based on life of Tim Richmond, while his name is a nod to veteran racer Dick Trickle. Rowdy Burns, his rival is patterned after Dale Earnhardt, big NASCAR star. There are few more similarities such as a race team owner who first recruits Cole into NASCAR is patterned after Rick Hendrick and Harry Hogge a Coles crew chief who is based on Harry Hyde. Interestingly, in some scenes there are even a few cameo appearance by NASCAR legends Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace and Neil Bonnett. During that period, the starring actor Tom Cruise drove a few races for Paul Newman racing team behind the wheel of Nissan 300ZX in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), so he had enough real life racing experience to perfectly fulfill the role of the Cole Trickle. However, beside the interesting plot and very good cast, this movie has fantastic racing scenes, very dynamic action and spectacular crash footage from bumper mounted cameras. There are no CGI effects (computer generated animation) and everything is real. Since it is 25 years old, the “Days of Thunder“ has that nostalgic late eighties and early nineties feel and photography but the race scenes are timeless and one of the best in the cinematography. That is why this flick is one of the best racing movies ever made and must for every NASCAR fan and for those who want to learn more about the NASCAR which is a very specific type of racing.


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