Tuesday, November 23, 2021


1983 Los Angeles, California.  The police get a brand new attack helicopter, Blue Thunder, that's equipped with all kinds of badass stuff (like a thermal infrared scanner, a rotary cannon and a VCR), so with a plot device like that it's understandable that audiences would expect the story to be something simple and awesome like there's an out of control turf war raging in the hood; a 10,000-strong biker gang of blood-drinking Satanists have taken over San Pedro / Terminal Island or maybe thousands of sexy flesh-eating Speedo-wearing bodybuilder zombies have invaded Venice Beach...and now the overwhelmed police gotta send in Blue Thunder to shoot "4,000 rounds per minute" of justice into these scumbags!  Arrggh!!!

Nope, instead we get a clusterfuck story about an emotionally unstable helicopter pilot (Roy Scheider) who's selected to test out a new attack helicopter alongside an old military buddy (Malcolm McDowell) who literally hates him.  As in murder hate.  Anyway, these two go round and round talking shit until finally, at the end of the movie, they both get into helicopters and shoot the crap out of each other while Scheider's girlfriend digs in a drive-in movie theater dumpster.  It's barely exciting and hard to believe that the same person, Dan O'Bannon, who wrote the masterpieces ALIEN and THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD also wrote this stinker.

In the early 1980's there was a flood of powerful machine movies / TV shows and a number of them featured vehicles that ended up becoming iconic: K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, Optimus Prime from the Transformers, Airwolf from some show I forgot the name of and so on, but I doubt there's as many people who are fans of Blue Thunder.  Hell, I was a kid when this snoozer came out and the only chatter about it on the schoolyard was the naked lady stretching in her living room while the sex offender perverts, I mean, police illegally spied on her.

Long story, short: great idea and a talented cast, but poor execution.  Also, the Blue Thunder helicopter itself wasn't anything special.  Airwolf would whip the shit out of it in twenty seconds.  Hell, the Screaming Mimi from goddamn Riptide would probably just bellyflop on it and knock it out of the sky.

Worth a viewing for the curious, but it's dated and forgettable.