Roy Scheider stars in this intense action thriller as a courageous police officer pilot battling government fanatics planning to misuse an experimental attack helicopter. Chosen to test BLUE THUNDER,Frank Murphy (Scheider) is amazed by the high-speed, high-tech chopper. It can see through walls, record a whisper or level a city block. Distrusting the military mentality behind BLUE THUNDER, Murphy and his partner Lymangood (Daniel Stern) soon discover that the remarkable craft is slated for useas the ultimate weapon in surveillance and crowd control. Jeopardized after being discovered by sinister Colonel Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell), Murphy flies BLUE THUNDER against military aircraft in a spellbinding contest over Los Angeles.
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"Suspense in a void" is how critic Pauline Kael described this action-packed hit from 1983. In other words, this is one of those flashy, superbly crafted high-tech thrillers in which the star is a machine, while intelligent plotting and human characters are a lesser priority. The machine in question is Blue Thunder--a heavily armored prototype helicopter that is secretly being tested for use in a devious government conspiracy. Roy Scheider plays the police pilot who catches on to the nefarious plot and takes to the skies against an evil army colonel (Malcolm McDowell) who will defend his coconspirators at any cost. Director John Badham was a hot property in the early '80s (he directed WarGames the same year), and Blue Thunder served as the popular model for many formulaic action thrillers to follow. That doesn't make it a great movie, but with a fine cast (including Daniel Stern in a memorable supporting role) and a dazzling aerial chase among big-city skyscrapers, Blue Thunder qualifies as slick entertainment. --Jeff Shannon
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