Blue Thunder

A solid time waster, directed with gratuitous intelligence by John Badham. Badham applies his decorative spatial skills to a very decorous space—the sky above Los Angeles, which becomes the battleground for a helicopter war between a good cop (Roy Scheider) and an evil Air Force pilot (Malcolm McDowell). The material is no more shaded than you'd expect from a Dan O'Bannon screenplay, but at least Badham doesn't camp up the juvenile conceits—and it's a pleasure to see the state-of-the-art movie technology being used to create lovely integrated images rather than needlessly complicated, merely impressive ones. With Candy Clark and Warren Oates, as fine as ever in his final role (1983).

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