Very good action yarn made during the same year as the more intellegent and superior Badham film, WarGames(1983). Still an entertaining action thriller with three major set pieces. One, the chase among helicopters in the same area as the chase in Terminator 2(1991). Two, the climatic battlescene while at times seems ruthless is nevertheless cheorgraphed with some impressive effects for its time. Three, the final conflict chase between Roy Scheider and Malcolm McDowell.
Acting leads includes Peckinpah actor, Warren Oates whose performance is very good in what was one of his final film roles before his death. He is justly at home in his role of the head of his Police department, and gives us his patterned hard edged cynical with a slight humor mannerisms. Blue Thunder(1983) is one of the five best films from a director in John Badham whose career has been full of ups and downs. I feel his output from the early to mid 1980s are his most successful times as a filmmaker. Roy Scheider is professional and tough in his role of the film's protagonist.
Malcolm McDowell gives another demented performance as Scheider's former mentor, and now chief nemisis. When channeling the right key, McDowell can be one convincing menacing villain. Badham's late 1990s Hitchcockian type thriller, Nick of Time(1996) used many of the same ideas on action and suspense as his earlier film, Blue Thunder(1983). That film even has a similarly sinister mentorstudent relationship as this film. While not a classic is certainly something that can be watched when one has little to do, or wants to be entertained.
Review by marquis de cinema from the Internet Movie Database.