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The movie tells the story of stock-car driver Cole Trickle, a young fireball on the Southern stock-car circuit who has loads of talent but no conception of how to channel that talent in to racing success. But finally he gets his chance to compete at the top level.
Days of Thunder wants to be an action drama, but it's really just a star vehicle of the most rudimentary sort, with nothing to offer Cruise except a chance to look pretty and chant time-tested punchlines.
Good writing by Robert Towne and a host of strong supporting performances complement the on-the-track visuals of director Tony Scott in giving us a sense of the leap of faith that is required by drivers at this level.
It's hard to enjoy a movie that is so predictable. Every time there's a race, you know who's going to win. Every time there's a knock at the door, you know who's going to be standing on the other side.
Days of Thunder does accomplish the job it sets out to do. It's sometimes funny, sometimes exciting and never too boring or offensive. In a disappointing movie season -- as this one has started out to be -- that can seem like quite an accomplishment.
Like the previous Simpson-Bruckheimer pictures, it's designed to give audiences an overdose of the thrill of victory; it wants us to jump out of our seats, pumping our fists in the air and roaring for the hero to pulverize his opponents.
Not only does Days of Thunder disappoint on the basic narrative level, it is also a peculiarly thrill-less action movie. Shot from the driver's point of view, the race sequences lose their novelty as swiftly as a video game.