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Blue Thunder is a specially modified helicopter. It is for police work, but is armed and designed to counter street insurgencies. Its makers want to show what it will do, but have to train Los Angeles Police pilot Frank Murphy to fly and use it in order to allow it to operate in the city. Murphy and the project pilot have differences going back to Vietnam. The conflict between them continues to heat up as Murphy begins to suspect that Blue Thunder is more than has been disclosed. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
After the original draft of the script was re-written, the character of Cochrane was added as a foil to Murphy and added the back story of Vietnam and their rivalry. Originally Bryan Brown was cast to play Cochran, but had to drop out because of a scheduling conflict with the mini-series, The Thorn Birds. Malcolm McDowell was cast at they very last minute and was not aware that he had to fly a helicopter as the Cochrane character has to in the film because of his fear of flying. Regardless of this he still took the role and did fly inside the helicopter. See more »
During Murphy and Lymangood's night test flight, the numeral "2" on Blue Thunder appears backwards in one exterior shot. See more »
I first saw Blue Thunder as a kid at the time of its release and enjoyed it purely as a slice of action/adventure typical of its time. I could name many films from the early 80s of a similar ilk, but this one stuck in my mind as a real favourite and it was only when I re-watched it recently that I understood why.
Unlike other films in the genre, Blue Thunder always strikes me as having been thought about and crafted in a very careful way. In fact I didn't remember there being as little action as there is. Instead we are given far more character development than we might be accustomed to, thereby enhancing the final aerial drama because we do care about the people involved.
Roy Scheider(who I must confess is my favourite actor of his era) gives a standout performance. His portrayal of Murphy with its wry humour & very human lapses shares more than a little with a certain Chief Brody, but the use of an aging rebel with little cause as the main character in a technological thriller is still refreshing now.
Malcolm McDowell gives the sort of OTT villainous performance that only he can (why has no-one ever cast him as a Bond villain?) and special mention must go to Warren Oates as Scheider's long-suffering boss.
The helicopter looks awesome with cool gadgets aplenty but it isn't the star here, Scheider is. Move over Top Gun, Airwolf, Wings of the Apache, et al; this is the number 1 fly-boy in town.
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