(director: John Badham; screenwriters: Dan O’Bannon/Don Jakoby; cinematographer: John Alonzo; editors: Frank Moriss/Edward Abrams; music: Arthur Rubinstein; cast: Roy Scheider (Frank Murphy), Daniel Stern(Richard Lymangood), Candy Clark (Kate), Malcolm McDowell(Colonel Cochrane), Warren Oates (Catain Braddock), Joe Santos (Montoya), Jason Bernard (Mayor), Paul Roeblin (Icelan), David Scheiner (Fletcher), Ed Bernard (Sgt. Short), Paul Lambert (Holmes), Pat Macnamera (Matusek), Robin Braxton (Diana Mcneely); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Gordon Carroll; Columbia Pictures; 1983)

This police thriller is an incoherent mess, playing out as a government conspiracy themed techno-thriller obsessed over technology.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This police thriller is an incoherent mess, playing out as a government conspiracy themed techno-thriller obsessed over technology. The title is derived from a super hi-tech prototype helicopter called Blue Thunder, consisting of advanced invasive surveillance gadgets and mega-weapons. It will be tested in Los Angeles for possible use in the upcoming 1984 Olympics against terrorist activity and for mob control. The former creative TV Director John Badham (“Drop Zone”/”The Jack Bull”) keeps it slick, techie focused and predictable. It loses credibility as the story becomes more and more wacky after a promising start.

The writers Dan O’Bannon and Don Jakoby seemed to have lost their grip on where the film was going, and it never is as good as it could have been. Frank Murphy (Roy Scheider) is a haunted veteran helicopter police pilot for the LAPD still suffering from his Vietnam War experience, who is close to losing it but has found an exercise to keep him from going crazy. He’s in the L.A. Astral Division, who help the cops on the ground by spotting from the air what can’t be seen on the ground as readily. His hard-nosed boss Captain Braddock (Warren Oates-his final screen role) assigns him to partner with the affable wide-eyed rookie Lymangood (Daniel Stern). When the mayor wants a test-run of the Blue Thunder, the Murphy team is chosen to be the test pilots. Murphy’s old nemesis from his military days, Colonel Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell), looms as part of a nefarious government group that plan on using the super-helicopter for more than just streets crimes. The helicopter with a sophisticated computer, an innovating taping system and access to top-secret government files, interests certain government officials who want to use the Blue Thunder for political assassinations. After hearing a tape made where Cochrane and his cronies talk about their bloody scheme, Murphy has his partner try to get the tape in the hands of a news outlet and he steals the Blue Thunder so the bad guys won’t carry out their mission.