Blue Thunder
Dir: John Badham
Star: Roy Scheider, Daniel Stern, Malcolm McDowell, Candy Clark
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1983
Format: DVD R2

Officer Frank Murphy (Roy Scheider) is a helicopter pilot in LA police Astro division. A Vietnam veteran he is emotionally unstable and always in trouble with his boss. Therefore it comes as a surprise that he and his new rookie partner Lymangood (Daniel Stern) (or JAFO as he has been nicknamed) have been assigned to test pilot a new police super helicopter named Blue Thunder. He quickly breaks the rules again and uses this powerful and heavily armed copter to investigate a robbery case that has been bothering him. Thus he uncovers the terrifying true use for Blue Thunder and a scandal that goes all the way to the top. All he has to do now is survive the attention of his Vietnam nemesis military pilot Colonel F.E. Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell) and live long enough to reveal the truth.

In the eighties Saturday afternoon television consisted of a series American imported action based shows. Standing out above these where the vehicle based shows. We are talking Knight Rider, Streethawk, Airwolf and yes Blue Thunder. These shows were always pretty formulaic; unfeasible futuristic vehicle, rugged hero, and a general need to fight injustice where ever it was found (not to mention the awful B movie acting). What has this to do with this film? Well although it may not have spawned this type of show it certainly helped to proliferate them (and as I said it did spawn a short lived show itself).

This is very much a companion review to Wargames, although the similarities are not immediately obvious. Both are John Badham movies in fact Wargames was his next film after Blue Thunder so the directorial style is similar. Also both are aimed at a teenage audience, with Blue Thunder being the more adult of the two. Then consider that both films deal with the issue of futuristic technology into modern society (although police the skies with mini gun armed helicopters is hardly nuclear war). Lastly the credit sequences and soundtracks are both very similar (understandable in the audio department as both were written by Arthur B. Rubinstein). Yes I know that the stories are very different but both movies do have the same feel.

So what does Blue Thunder have going for it? Well let's start with the cool hardware especially the excellent helicopter. As a major star in the film the helicopter looks the business and where as many of the more fanciful ideas have now become commonplace it has not yet dated (much better that the ridiculously far fetched Airwolf). Add this to a good story (by cult favourites Don Jakoby and Dan O'Bannon) which is part cop buddy movie and part aerial dogfight and you have something very entertaining indeed. All of this is ably directed by John Badham who uses some excellent aerial photography (way before Top Gun) to provide some pretty spectacular thrills.

Its about this time in a review I talk about the cast and it will come as no surprise then that is what I am going to do. Roy Scheider plays the troubled cop role so well, and this is no exception. Comic actor Daniel Stern ably plays his partner Lymangood and he provides a likeable and humerous character (better than Dana Cavey who filled the same role in the TV series). However the film is unmercifully stolen by the massively over acting performance of Malcolm Mcdowell. This is early example of the sort of bad guy role that more recently he has become type cast in. The rest of the cast is likeable and adequate.

In Summary Blue Thunder is a fun film. There are enough explosions and action to please the passing viewer although you may be reminded of Saturday afternoon TV rather than big box office Hollywood. Not a film for deep meanings and hidden levels this is a not too complicated cop movie with a novel helicopter twist. The technology is cool and the camera work is excellent and effects are mostly good (a little bit of the all to obvious model work at times though). Overall this film still entertains and is worth a watch next time its on TV.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Good but not anamorphic
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Ok so its a new mix but due to the source its a little flat
Features Trailer
Verdict A good transfer is let down by practically no extras. This is typical of a R2 budget release of an older movie.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home