Cover of Blue Thunder (Special Edition)Blue Thunder, a movie that came out in 1983, still holds up today as one of the best helicopter movies ever made for the big screen (Please don't even MENTION that piece of **** "Firebirds")
The setup: Frank Murphy (Rob Schneider) is a LAPD helicopter pilot chosen to test an armed police helicopter named "Blue Thunder", which has a few tricks like turbo mode, whisper mode, and some great microphone and heat-tracking cameras. However, his nemesis Colonel Cochrane (Malcoln McDowell) is the chief test pilot. One night, while testing the chopper, Murphy used the chopper to follow Cochrane, and listened to (and recorded) proof of a conspiracy... which made him a target. He was able to escape with the tape, but his observer was killed. He must steal Blue Thunder and escort his wife to a TV station with the tape where the truth will be revealed... When the entire LAPD, and even the military, will be up against him... and finally, Colonel Cochrane himself, in another gunship... in an aerial duel in the skies of downtown Los Angeles...
For a movie about an object, Blue Thunder itself sure showed up late, but that gives us a chance to learn about the characters and thus, to care about them. Murphy is on the edge of breakdown, Lymangood is new and enthusiastic, and Cochrane is sufficiently creepy to be a "bad guy". When the action starts, you know it won't stop. In a way, the plot is very reminiscent of Star Wars plot... setup, setup, setback, setup, then non-stop action, still ramping up, up, and up, until the big finish.
The special effects are lousy by today's standards, but there is little camera trickery here. It's either models and stock footage, or just cutting and splicing scenes. No CGI back then, and it's still good enough.
If you haven't seen it, you missed a lot. Even if you have seen it, the "making of" featurettes are worth watching too. How else will you learn that Malcoln McDowell was actually afraid of helicopters?
Rating: Rent it, at least once!