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Viewer’s Collection – Week 3 of Ricky’s Picks: “Days of Thunder” (1990)

April 18, 2012

We continue the Ricky Coker picks of Viewer’s Collection, with a “Top Gun” reunion kind of film. Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, return to director Tony Scott, and superstar Tom Cruise  for this excursion into stock-car racing that incorporates the vroom and rumble of deafening car engines with a rehash of the same elements that worked so effectively in Cruise’s “Top Gun”. While it’s certainly not as good as “Top Gun”, “Days of Thunder” has it’s moments.

Stock-car driver, Cole Trickle (Cruise), is a young fireball on the Southern stock-car circuit whose got the talent but no conception of how to channel that talent into racing success. When Tim Daland (Randy Quaid) commissions veteran stock-car racer Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) to construct a car and hire Cole to drive it, Harry must infuse Cole with his philosophy of winning and teach him how to channel his raw talent into success. Cole immediately comes into conflict with the circuit’s star driver, Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker), and their hijinks on the track causes them to smash up their cars and lands them both in the hospital. Because of his injuries, Rowdy is forced to withdraw from the circuit competition. With no rival to torment, Rowdy becomes Cole’s supporter and friend, while Cole revs up his motors for Dr. Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman), the attractive brain specialist who supervises Cole’s recovery from the crackup. Cole’s health is restored, and he begins to race again, chastened and hanging onto Harry’s every word. Cole appears to have centered himself for success, but in the style of an epic grand finale, Cole must compete against Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes), a dastardly driver who not only wants to see Cole defeated but permanently disabled.

Ok, so there’s a lot being thrown at us with this movie, in fact it’s basically got the same amount of dramatic meet and shenanigans that “Top Gun” gave audiences, my problem with the movie is the character development. Cole is supposedly the Maverick of the racing world, he drives like a loose canon and he knows it too. However, the movie makes so many twist and turns between exploiting Cole’s likability and charming vulnerability, that in the end he’s more portrayed as an emotional loser, similar to another early Cruise dramedy, “Cocktails”. The final results with the character of Cole is uncertain and an unsatisfying mix of melodrama. Duvall’s Hogge is ok here, although his methods become way to preachy for it’s own good, I can actually see why Will Ferrell said that “Talladega Nights” was the basis of this movie. You can notice a lot of similarities in both films.

I will point out that with the movies flawed characters, it makes up for it’s keen eye on action. Ward Russell’s cinematography is probably the one shining star of the picture, he’s not afraid to get in deep with the racing sequences and give us the neo-POV experience. Along with the top notch cinematography, there is some baller sound design here, the SFX, and the score by Hans Zimmer stand out. I had a feeling Ricky would give me a dud of a film to watch on his list, but from the list of films he’s presented to me, this was the one and only movie was the least excited for, and if you know Ricky, that’s pretty goddamn impressive. So, next week we’ll end Ricky’s Viewer’s Collection Picks with “Crimson Tide”, it’s one of my favorite Denzel films, and it’s certainly a good watch for Bluray, which I own.

Do you have any memories about this film? Do you agree or disagree with my take? Please, respond to me ataaproductions07@gmail.com

GRADE: C

NEXT WEEK’S REVIEW WILL BE ON ”CRIMSON TIDE”. RENT IT AND JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION NEXT WEEK!

ALSO, YOUR LAST CHANCE TO SUBMIT YOUR PICKS FOR THE MONTH JUNE IS COMING UP! THE FINAL DAY OF SUBMITIONS ARE ON APRIL 24TH, THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED THE FOLLOWING DAY! EMAIL ME YOUR 4 FILM PICKS AT AAPRODUCTIONS07@GMAIL.COM OR AARON@HUDAKONHOLLYWOOD.COM! GOOD LUCK!

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