In Blue Thunder , Frank Murphy (Roy Schneider) is a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter pilot selected to fly a new fangled chopper created by the military for use against possible terrorists during the 1984 Olympics. He and his younger side-kick Lymangood (Daniel Stern) are quite impressed by Blue Thunder's aerial maneuvers and its weapons and surveillance systems. However, when they learn that this amazing machine has been created by law-and-order zealots for malevolent purposes, they rebel. Murphy hijacks the whirlybird and fends off and all-out attack by S.W.A.T. teams and Air Force fighter jets equipped with heat seeking missiles.

Cinematographer John Alonzo (Chinatown) provides us with an adrenaline charged experience as he uses high speed film during the chase sequences over Los Angeles. Director John Badham makes the most of this cinematic roller coaster ride. The screenplay toys with the issue of privacy — blue Thunder is equipped with a computer connected to national databases — but its real message is that high-tech machines can be dangerous weapons in the wrong hands. Blue Thunder compels us to think about the specter of a 1984-ish techno-fascist society where advanced technology is used by a power-clique to gain control over people's lives.