Blue Thunder (1983) / Action-Crime
MPAA Rated: R for violence, language and some nudity
Running Time: 108 min.
Cast: Roy Scheider, Malcolm McDowell, Daniel Stern, Warren Oates, Candy Clark
Director: John Badham
Screenplay: Don Jakoby, Dan O'Bannon, Dean Riesner
Review published March 7, 2003
Blue Thunder's title refers to a military-style, modified helicopter that is being tested as a potential future means to quell crowd insurrections. The test pilot for the helicopter is Frank Murphy (Scheider, Jaws), who is a sort-of loose cannon suffering recurring flashbacks about Vietnam. Conflicts arise when a city councilwoman is killed by what is reported as a rape attempt, but clues surface that it may have been an assassination involving people who are a little too close to home for Murphy. Because of this discovery, it appears he is next on the list to go.
While it may be short on logic, Blue Thunder is long on entertainment. The multitudinous thrilling action scenes in the air and helicopter dogfights make the film work. It's good to see Scheider at the peak of his abilities, before his career would com undone by one dud too many. A nice supporting cast bolsters the film with good characterization, with only Candy Clark (Cocaine and Blue Eyes) doing a poor job in the acting department. While at its heart a serious action-drama, the inclusion of some smart, off-the-cuff humor makes the dialogue sparkle and the in-between action scenes entertaining. On the downside, there are some serious leaps of logic in the physics and technology of the film, further weakened by a porous plot, and ham-handed handling of the action scenes while on the ground.
Blue Thunder is strictly for action-junkies, who should have no problem finding enough amusement and excitement to entertain. It's nothing great, but definitely delivers on everything it sets out to do.
©2003 Vince Leo