Blue Thunder is a ripsnorting live-action cartoon, utterly implausible but no less enjoyable for that.

Opening 15 minutes take vet LA police helicopter pilot Roy Scheider and rookie Daniel Stern on nocturnal rounds, which encompass apprehension of some liquor store hold-up men, a little voyeurism outside the window of a sexy babe and, more seriously, trying to help stem an assault on a female city council-woman at her home.

Reprimanded by boss Warren Oates for the sex-show detour, Scheider is nevertheless invited to a demonstration of the Feds’ latest creation, Blue Thunder, a top-secret anti-terrorist chopper loaded with artillery and all manner of privacy invasion technology.

Craft has been brought to LA for possible use against subversives during the 1984 Olympic Games, and among those in charge of the program is cardboard villain Malcolm McDowell, with whom Scheider served in Vietnam. For sketchy reasons, they hated each other then and they hate each other now.

Although brief Vietnam flashbacks punctuate the film to ‘explain’ animosity between Scheider and McDowell, streamlined script has been shorn of almost all psychology and complexity, and it hardly matters.

1983: Nomination: Best Editing

Blue Thunder

  • Production: Rastar/Columbia. Director John Badham; Producer Gordon Carroll; Screenplay Dan O'Bannan, Don Jakoby; Camera John A. Alonzo; Editor Frank Morriss, Edward Abroms; Music Arthur B. Rubinstein; Art Director Sidney Z. Litwack
  • Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1983. Running time: 108 MIN.
  • With: Roy Scheider Malcolm McDowell Warren Oates Candy Clark Daniel Stern Paul Roebling