Blue Thunder (John Badham, 1983) – Blue Thunder is a no nonsense 80s action thriller that works pretty damn well, hitting all the right buttons from beginning to end in the most efficient manner possible. It seems like the mantra making the film was “keep it simple, stupid,” and it works.
Frank Murphy (Roy Scheider) is a no nonsense LA police pilot chosen to test the new high-tech experimental chopper, Blue Thunder. Frank is honored but hesitant; this helicopter is a game changer, as it can see through walls, record someone speaking at a whisper from thousands of feet away. However, thanks to Murphy’s past with the military, he’s naturally distrusting of the sinister Colonel Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell) who Murphy served with years earlier. Soon enough Murphy and his partner discover that this amazing airship is slated for use as the ultimate weapon in crowd control and surveillance. It’s up to them to expose this government conspiracy and cover up and with any luck, stay alive in the process.
From director John Badham, Blue Thunder doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but it crafts an effective and tightly wound action thriller that doesn’t try to do more then was absolutely necessary. Towards the beginning of his 80s run of accessible action and/or comedies, Badham showed unwavering ability to craft a straight ahead movie with smarts, laughs and solid action. With a script from Dan O’Bannon and Don Jakoby, Badham drops creates a fun and exciting vision of urban warfare. The dialogue is unremarkable, the pace builds at the right speed.
Scheider is in his sardonic, iron jawed form here. McDowell can scowl and eat up the screen with the best of them. And with Daniel Stern, Warren Oates and Candy Clark rounding out the ensemble cast, there isn’t a single wasted or thankless performance.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray were actually quite good, but there are no special features. (Dave Voigt)