Blue Thunder

"Very Good"

Blue Thunder Review


When John Badham's Blue Thunder came out I was just a kid, but the film made quite an impression on me. I didn't actually see it. And I suspect that most of the kids who told me long rambling stories about it didn't either. It was one of those school yard legends, like the one about the woman in the apartment across from the middle school who gets undressed in her window for all the world to see, or the one about the kid who was skateboarding a swimming pool and found a machine gun in the deep end. Blue Thunder was just the sweetest thing we could imagine. I mean, it was a helicopter that flew silently (so the story went) and it was all high tech and it could kill a million people in a few seconds. This was the Cold War and something like Blue Thunder just seemed too incredible. This was Ronald Reagan's secret weapon against the commies.

Of course, like all schoolyard tales it was too good to be true. "Blue Thunder" wasn't a top clandestine Commie-busting nuke firing super secret weapon; it was a cool looking helicopter that the cops used to control rioters. When I actually saw the movie a few years later, I was bummed to say the least.

But there was a good reason for that. Blue Thunder is an intelligent, well-conceived film that is as satirical as it is macho tech. Scripters Dan O'Bannon (Alien) and Don Jakoby (Invaders from Mars) are more concerned with the sinister implications of the Blue Thunder copter than they are in showing off its supreme firepower.

The film concerns Frank Murphy (Roy Scheider), an L.A.P.D. pilot who is haunted by nasty Nam flashbacks and paired up with a clumsy rookie named Lymangood (Daniel Stern). These two are roped into trying out an experimental helicopter called Blue Thunder that the police want to use to counter the insurgency, er, I mean urban violence. But Murphy's no slacker and he quickly catches on that Blue Thunder has been developed for more nefarious reasons and it links in with a secret military program called Thor.

The film really plays up the distrust of the government vibe that was so popular in the late '70s and the early '80s. (Now where on Earth has that vibe gone?) Murphy's concerns, at first painted to be the result of psychiatric illness, are validated in the end. The film's just as cynical as he is. And it's surprisingly topical today. Along the way we are treated to some nice aerial shots, some pyrotechnics and a scene of a very limber woman doing nude calisthenics that will forever haunt prepubescent boys. Oh yeah, and Malcolm McDowell plays the villain. This is an '80s film, after all.

After 20 odd years, Blue Thunder is still an invigorating and sardonic film. Badham's pacing is spot on, the acting straight and narrow, the screenplay witty and almost overly intelligent. Oh, and the helicopter kicks some serious ass, even if isn't a super Commie destroyer.

Now available in orange.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 13th May 1983

Box Office Worldwide: $42M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Rastar Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Frank Murphy, as Jack Braddock, as Kate, as F.E. Cochrane, as Icelan, David Sheiner as Fletcher, as Col. F.E. Cochrane, as Officer Richard Lymangood, as Montoya, Ed Bernard as Sgt. Short, as Alf Hewitt, David Sheiner as Fletcher

Also starring: ,

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