Case Number 15475


Paramount // 1990 // 107 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // January 19th, 2009

The Charge

Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall): What do you know about stock car racing?
Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise): Well...watched it on television, of course.
Hogge: You've seen it on television?
Trickle: ESPN. The coverage is excellent, you'd be surprised at how much you can pick up.
Hogge: I'm sure I would.

You can't stop the thunder!

Opening Statement

Think of it as Top Gun with cars. Now on Blu-ray, is Days of Thunder worth the upgrade, or better yet, a first-time purchase?

Facts of the Case

Racing rookie Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise) is a hot-shot NASCAR driver with a short fuse and a wild streak. Can Cole tame his attitude enough to keep from alienating himself from both the other drivers and his own team?

The Evidence

Martin Scorcese and Robert De Niro. Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Over the years, there have been many actor/director teams that have not only seemed to have a solid working relationship, but have also managed to translate that successful relationship into box office success. In the late 80s and early 90s, Tom Cruise, director Tony Scott and the production team of Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson delivered Top Gun and Days of Thunder.

Whether you consider the two films to be formulaic or not, they both clearly bring some mechanical muscle, professional tension, steamy romance, and cocky attitude together into action/drama films that have become among the best of the genre. Days of Thunder offers something for everyone: eye candy for girls and boys, high-caliber actors, roof-raising sound and stimulating visuals, a suitable soundtrack and score, and a better-than-average plot. And for me, the film also takes me back to my early 20s, when I was just settling into my university education and planning my future, pre-career, pre-marriage and most of all, pre-mortgage. Little did any of us know that at just 28, Tom Cruise was in the first phase of his world domination.

Let's be honest...Days of Thunder isn't really a great film. It's also far from a bad film, landing it comfortably in the middle of popcorn land. Don't expect Oscar fare here to be sure, but there's never been a more appropriate film to suggest putting your brain into neutral and coming along for the ride. Cruise and supporting cast members Robert Duvall, Nicole Kidman (who took the female lead after Meg Ryan passed) all deliver solid performances and create better-than-average characters. The film also features cameos by real drivers Rusty Wallace, Neil Bonnett, and Harry Gant, as well as co-producer Don Simpson.

Fans of the film get a mixed bag with this release. While the image and sound quality are definitely solid, they're just not up to the standard of more contemporary film releases on Blu-ray. One could argue that this film is now almost 20 years old (yikes!), so how could it possibly meet the bar set by a release of a film like Wall-E or The Dark Knight? It all comes down to the studio's motives. If they're bringing a film to Blu-ray for preservation and the enjoyment of future generations as is the case with the Godfather Trilogy, anything seems to be possible. Days of Thunder on Blu-ray leaves the impression of a back catalog cash grab and little more.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Really? No extra features of any kind? Combine that with a less than A-list video and audio presentation and it makes it pretty hard to recommend Days of Thunder on Blu-ray as a first time purchase, and nearly impossible to recommend it for an upgrade from standard DVD.

Closing Statement

Days of Thunder stands proudly as an example of a late 80s/early 90s action film...heavy on the icing, but a little light on the cake. But if you're looking for 100-odd minutes of adrenaline and testosterone, coupled with some solid performances, this is just what the doctor ordered!

The Verdict

If you already own Days of Thunder on standard DVD, there's really no reason to upgrade. If you're considering finally adding this film to your library now that it's available in hi-def, I'd highly recommend a rental first.

Review content copyright © 2009 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 80
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 75
Story: 70
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)

Audio Formats:
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)

* English
* French
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb