Is this Top Gun with race cars? Absolutely!, Is that a problem? Absolutely!
Days of Thunder is entertaining but offers no real creativity from director Tony Scott or star Tom Cruise. They have already made this movie, they just changed the vehicle that the character operates. Beat for beat, you just see Top Gun in this film, nothing is unique to Days of Thunder. Scott’s direction of NASCAR racing is exciting, the man can direct action very well, no one can deny that but without originality from its characters its kinda empty.
Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise in this movie, they gave a character a name I couldn’t remember it but I’m gonna guess it was Maverick on Wheels. His first appearance is Cruise riding in on motorcycle and then acting like’s the best damn driver in the world. He’s clearly Maverick. All the other Top Gun characters have their counterpart, Michael Rooker is Iceman, Nicole Kidman is Blackwood, Robert Duvall is Viper and Michael Rooker I think is also Goose. It’s really frustrating how much this movie ripped off, but it’s from the guys who made Top Gun in the first place yet it’s somehow more shameful.
Days of Thunder does focus a lot of its story on the reality of danger revolving around racing. The film shows how serious injuries can arise from this support and shows the collateral damage it takes psychologically on the driver. But it just feels like the same thing when Scott and Cruise showed the same dangers of being a jet pilot. We have this before, we have seen Cruise give this performance before, that doesn’t mean its bad, Cruise is a talented actor who can deliver. It’s just not appealing storytelling if I’ve seen the exact same thing before. Even the love story is very similar, Kidman portrays a woman of authority that Cruise is drawn to. I was shocked they didn’t actually recreate the iconic love-making scene from Top Gun and the mentor relationship between Duvall and Cruise can’t ascend beyond something two-dimensional.
All the elements that make Days of Thunder a watchable film are in Top Gun and done better. This imitation is not flattery, it’s just lazy and frustrating because you know Scott and Cruise could do so much more with a story like this. It’s predictable but perhaps if you’ve never seen Top Gun you may enjoy Days of Thunder more. I don’t hate this movie, Hans Zimmer music works really well, the racing is exciting, actors are very talented and I love 90’s movie. The feel of this film appeals to me greatly but I can’t look past its glaring faults, It just never seems like it wanted to be anything more than a clichéd rehash of a better film made years previous.