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Blue Thunder (1983, Roy Scheider, Candy Clark) 



A conspiracy thriller with a difference, John Badham’s star is a $5m state-of-the art helicopter, Blue Thunder. Equipped with all the latest weaponry, it also carries high-tech surveillance equipment as well as outflying almost anything in the sky.

Picked to trial it for the LAPD is Murphy (ROY SCHEIDER) and rookie partner Lymangood (DANIEL STERN). Murphy’s a Vietnam vet whose experience make him the best pilot on the force but when he meets Cochrane (MALCOLM McDOWELL), the man in charge of the programme, sparks fly. The pair have unfinished business from the war and despite Cochrane’s attempts to ground them, they soon take to the skies. Testing all the equipment, they eavesdrop on a conversation that links the murder of a city councillor with a very different role for Blue Thunder – not to suppress crime but detect and quell any political dissent. With the confession taped, they have to get it broadcast. Murphy gives it to his friend Kate (CANDY CLARK), a TV reporter but as she takes it to the TV station, Cochrane, one of the conspirators, kills Lymangood and then sets out in pursuit of Clark in an attack chopper. Only Murphy and Blue Thunder can save her and the truth.

The film actually manages to have it both ways – the audience is against the military machine prying into lives and preventing protest, but at the same time, it falls in love with Blue Thunder and its potential for reinforcing law as long as it’s done by a moralistic man like Murphy. The highlight of the film, unsurprisingly, is the climax which lasts over 30 minutes using stunt flyers and genuine choppers rather than CGI effects and the duel staged amid the city skyscrapers is about cunning as much as it is about firepower, making it all the more exciting. The film also stars WARREN OATES as the goodies’ gruff superior in what was to be his last role.

production details
USA / 109 minutes / 1983

Director: John Badham
Writers: Don Jakoby, Dan O’Bannon,

Roy Scheider as Frank Murphy
Candy Clark as Kate
Daniel Stern as Officer Richard Lymangood
Paul Roebling as Icelan
David Sheiner as Fletcher
Malcolm McDowell as Col. F.E. Cochrane
Joe Santos as Montoya
Ed Bernard as Sgt. Short
James Murtaugh as Alf Hewitt
Phil Feldman as Col. Coe
Mario Machado as Mario Machado
James Read as Police Officer on Bridge
Thomas Rosales, Jr. as Bully
Warren Oates as Jack Braddock