Essentially a remake of their huge 1986 success, Top Gun director Tony Scott and star Cruise have moved the story to the NASCAR circuit to allow the star to indulge his love of auto racing. Again, the protagonist learns to discipline his overpowering but unruly talent under the guidance of a grizzled sage (Robert Duvall) and a stern, beautiful woman (Nicole Kidman). Scott has given the film the look of an award-winning two-hour beer commercial, while pumping up the soundtrack to create an excitement that the story has trouble generating on its own. But the filmmakers seem unaware that car races aren't as compelling as car chases in the celluloid universe, and after awhile, one banked turn blurs into the next. Yet esteemed screenwriter Robert Towne, who seems to have become Cruise's house scribe, adds a touch of class to the script, raising the level of the dialogue, and taking some air out of the star's hotshot persona. The same goes for Duvall, who is quietly powerful as the wise mechanic. Kidman, like many women in the films of Simpson and Bruckheimer, functions mainly as eye candy despite the importance of her role to the story. In sum, a predictably empty experience.
by Michael Costello review