Continuing my plan to watch every Tom Cruise movie in order, I come to Days Of Thunder (1990)
Plot In A Paragraph: Cole Trickle (Cruise) a young hot shot stock car driver, gets his chance to compete at the top level
Cruise does not make it 3 in a row, following on from Rain Man and Born On The Fourth Of July, this movie is a let down. One of its main problems is The problem that plagues all racing movies, predictability!! You know how it is going to end. Then add the fact that it was just exactly like so many other Cruise movies (Top Gun, Colour Of Money and Cocktail) I have watched recently. The Cruise character, a young, cocky but naturally talented kid, who could be the best, if only he could learn some damn self control and discipline. He has a mentor, an older man, who has been there and done it all, and knows talent when he sees it, then throw in a love interest, older and more mature than Cruise. It's practically a template, only the occupation changes (Pilot, Pool Player, Bartender) nothing else.
As I said above Cruise is just playing the standard Tom Cruise character as in the other movies. He doesn't offer anything new at all, and following on from his last two performances, that is a shame. Nicole Kidman doesn't really offer anything to the movie, and gives no indication of the star she would be come. Randy Quaid is normally an actor I cringe watching, but he is OK here. Michael Rooker, an actor I always like seeing and John C Reilly another actor I enjoy watching high offer reliable support. Don Simpson cast himself in a supporting role in this movie, however he was so bad, that his role was reduced to a single line.
The best thing in this movie is Robert Duvall. The man never disappoints, and this movie is no exception. He is head and shoulders above everyone else.
The movie was a troubled production from the off, Don Simpson, Jerry Bruckheimer and Robert Towne argued with director Tony Scott daily. Production began without a finished script. Scenes were often written the day of filming. During one driving sequence, Tom Cruise (who has a Story By credit) had to read his lines off cue cards attached to his windshield. For subsequent driving sequences, Cruise was fitted with a special earpiece to have lines fed to him. The budget doubled, and would have needed to make $100 million to just break even, which back then was a huge amount.
Days Of Thunder grossed $82 million at the domestic box office, to end the year the 13th highest grossing movie of 1989.
Random side note. The film's disappointing box office performance destroyed the relationship between Paramount and producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. After the film under-performed the studio asked Simpson and Bruckheimer to give Paramount nine million dollars of their earnings for this movie back to defray losses. The producers responded by telling Paramount they were done working for them.