Released in June of 1990 to the tune of $82 million at the box office, Days of Thunder is another high-octane action film from the unstoppable Simpson/Bruckheimer production team that dominated the 80’s and 90’s. Roger Ebert would call it the quintessential example of the “Tom Cruise Picture,” and he’s completely right. Even with nary a cliche un-turned, Days of Thunder is still an entertaining, albeit at times excessively dramatic (the film comes to a screeching halt for its second act), look at the world of stock car racing. Robert Towne’s screenplay still feels fresh and Cruise has always been one of the most likable leading men in the game. Even in a worst case the movie still makes for a hell of a home theater sound demo.
Hans Zimmer’s score is, well, very 90’s. I mean REALLY 90’s. Not a criticism, just an observation. I wholeheartedly admit that there’s some cheese in this score, but it’s the right kind of cheese. It’s driven largely by keyboards, electric guitar, and bass. It reaches all of the epic crescendos that are needed for the on-screen action. Days of Thunder‘s main theme is superb and has since become a NASCAR anthem of sorts. After the big race (come on, I’m not spoiling anything), we get to a track called “Victory Lane.” It runs a very brief 1:20 and I absolutely love it. The opening seconds capture the relief and reflection that the race is over. The build-up continues until the big lead guitar comes in at 0:43. Victory! Play accordingly for any major or minor win in your life.