Now available on Blu-ray in the 2:35:1 (i.e. black bars) format, Blue Thunder is a good action movie –the last thirty minutes are all action all the time-- that does not show it was made twenty-five years ago. The movie stars Roy Scheider as veteran LAPD chopper pilot Frank Murphy, Daniel Stern as his rookie partner, and Malcolm McDowell and the you-immediately-know-he-is-the-baddie baddie. Blue Thunder was spun off into a short lived TV series and an unseen by anyone on the planet sequel (1987) and was the inspiration for the dreadful Airwolf TV series.
Veteran LAPD chopper pilot Frank Murphy (Scheider) is chosen to test fly a new helicopter which features all of the most recent technology and weaponry. Why the LAPD would need such a beast is part of the conspiracy plotline. Murphy’s sidekick is a rookie played by Daniel Stern. Colonel Cochrane (McDowell) the only British USAF guy ever and Murphy’s Viet-Nam era nemesis is part of the conspiracy. Murphy slowly discovers someone’s nefarious plans for Blue Thunder and has to not only prove the conspiracy but defend his innocence.
Blue Thunder really telegraphs its punches. For example: early on Murphy is said to be the only man to have done a 360 in a helicopter. You know this is going to come up later. Murphy’s Viet-Nam flashbacks are, of course, going to interfere with his flying at a bad time.
This action movie is all about helicopters and asset-up for a few great dogfights at the end. It does raise a few private citizens privacy issues but only as an element of the plot and not a really serious point to make.
This is a fun movie that easily captures and keeps the viewer’s attention.
A blooper few have picked up on: The drive-in features an R rated movie where children under 12 get in free.
Blue Thunder Blu-ray comes with the usual commentary track bonus feature. This time it features the director, the editor, and a motion control supervisor, Also included are a couple of Making Of features and the usual original trailer and such. In other words, there is not much to write home about.