The Need For More Speed
Days Of Thunder, If I had to guess the genesis for Days of Thunder had its place in two areas. First the fact that Top Gun proved to be such a mega-hit for Tom Cruise that a similar film was almost dictated to be made by Paramount. But secondly it was reported that on the set of The Color of Money, co-star Paul Newman got Cruise interested in auto racing so you put those two things together, Days of Thunder was almost a film that had to be made.
The film certainly has the feel of NASCAR to it and it takes its place along side such racing classics as Grand Prix, The Racers and Paul Newman’s own film, Winning. The story is the teaming of young rookie sensation Cruise and top mechanic Robert Duvall.
Tom’s character is a whole lot like the young fighter pilot in Top Gun, a kid with a world of confidence and the ability to make his brag become fact. He’s a driver by instinct not knowing a whole lot about the mechanics of a racing car. That’s the way he and Duvall complement each other although it’s not an easy relationship.
Days of Thunder is also the film on which Tom met Mrs. Cruise number two, Nicole Kidman. She’s a neurologist who gets to treat Tom after a crash and also drops the hammer on Cruise’s rival Michael Rooker and his career after a serious head injury.
There are also some nice performances by Randy Quaid as the stock car owner and Cary Elwes as another of Cruise’s rival drivers.