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Blue Thunder

Entry updated 24 August 2020. Tagged: Film, TV.

Film (1983). Rastar/Gordon Carroll Productions. Directed John Badham. Written by Dan O'Bannon, Don Jakoby. Cast includes Candy Clark, Malcolm McDowell, Warren Oates, Roy Scheider and Daniel Stern. 110 minutes. Colour.

Borderline sf set in a very Near-Future Los Angeles, Blue Thunder tells the story of Murphy (Scheider), a helicopter-based police officer, asked to try out a new supercopter: it can see through walls, fire missiles, fly at 200 knots and hear conversations from far away. Murphy gradually unravels a government conspiracy to create rioting among Blacks and Chicanos as a justification for the introduction of new, draconian police methods of surveillance and riot control. The post-Watergate, post-Vietnam Paranoia of the plot is rather unconvincing, in part because of McDowell's overacting as a right-wing extremist, and there is much moral confusion between the overt theme – the dangers of using new Technology as an instrument of oppression – and the subtext, which says that this same technology is exciting and beautiful. Blue Thunder is well made, suspenseful and meretricious, and owes altogether too much to Firefox. Columbia TV produced a disappointing television series of the same title, Blue Thunder, starring James Farentino, which ran briefly for 11 episodes in 1984; in it the same supercopter becomes merely a useful aid for stereotypical police work. [PN]

see also: Cinema.


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