Blue Thunder (1983)
Pimp My Chopper
You're supposed to be stupid, son. Don't abuse the privilege. - Jack Braddock
Back in the 80s there were two TV shows about flashy helicopters, they both arrived in 1984 one was called "Blue Thunder" the other "Airwolf" and I was an "Airwolf" fan as it was much cooler. Ironically a few years after the series finished and neither lasted that long I saw "Blue Thunder" the movie which spawned the TV series and if only the TV series had been as good as the movie I would have favoured it. Now to be honest "Blue Thunder" the movie is not great this is a movie which trades on it starring Roy Scheider as a good guy and the pimped up helicopter with an array of wicked gadgets. And watching "Blue Thunder" now it all seems a bit cheesy and run of the mill with a crime story which ends up less thrilling than it thinks it is.
Whilst not his bosses favourite office, police helicopter pilot Frank Murphy (Roy Scheider - Jaws 2) is one of the best and because of this he is picked to test a new hi-tech helicopter known as "Blue Thunder". Loaded with gadgets and weapons this new helicopter is designed to counter street insurgencies and the agencies behind it want Frank to see what it can do in LA. But it's not an easy task when current test pilot Col. F.E. Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell - Halloween), a former Vietnam pilot who Frank served with, takes an instant dislike to him. And to make matters worse, Frank discovers a secret plot for what "Blue Thunder" is going to be used for and it puts his life in risk.
Story wise "Blue Thunder" does have the pieces to make a good movie, you have Officer Frank Murphy this ultra cool police helicopter pilot who has Vietnam flashback issues, you also have his new and wet behind the ears side kick. Then you have this fancy helicopter which is full of gadgets as well as a rivalry which sees Frank having to face up to someone from his passed, Col. F.E. Cochrane who has been the new helicopters test pilot. And there's more but basically all of this combines for an almost conspiracy style storyline where a politician gets killed and whilst snooping into what happened Frank becomes enemy number one.
The thing about "Blue Thunder" is that the whole thriller aspect is not that special, groups of people planning nefarious acts is not than unusual nor is a cop becoming enemy number one by sticking their nose in where it's not wanted. But "Blue Thunder" is interesting because of the gadgets and gizmos aboard the helicopter and how Frank uses them to try and save his butt. Yes watching "Blue Thunder" now the gadgets are dated, a mention of a new video tape system is seriously amusing, and anyone who believes those super microphones will work mounted under the blades need a reality check. But in a way it doesn't matter because from the helmet controlled gun on the front of the helicopter through the use of whisper mode to hover outside buildings almost silently it works and in a way makes you wish you were a kid again when realism wasn't a factor.
In fact it is the helicopter which is the star of "Blue Thunder" and every scene it appears in grabs your attention, especially in the scene where Frank is trying to evade being blown out of the air by a couple of F16 bombers. Even when it loses touch with reality and does something which breaks the laws of physics you don't care because it looks good doing it. And whilst Roy Scheider literally coasts through the movie he is the second best thing with his ultra cool goody guy. It's easy to like Frank because whilst he does his job he has personality and little quirks such as his constant testing against the stopwatch he has on his watch.
What this all boils down to is that "Blue Thunder" is what it is, once a cool movie from the 80s which entertained thanks to this hi-tech helicopter full of gizmos and gadgets. It is now very dated and those once entertaining gadgets are now rather bad but still there is something about it, something which entertains despite the obvious storyline and the escapism of this pimped helicopter.
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