Saturday, December 06, 2014

Thunder Run

Forrest Tucker’s next-to-last film (he shot TIMESTALKERS in June of 1986 and died a few months later) was for Cannon, and it's a delightfully silly action romp that unfortunately doesn’t really get churning until its second half. THUNDER RUN also has roles for Oscar nominee John Ireland (ALL THE KING’S MEN), John Shepherd (poor Tommy Jarvis from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING), Wallace Langham (THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW and 250 episodes of CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION), and adorable Jill Whitlow from NIGHT OF THE CREEPS.

That cast plus the gimmick of a gadget-riddled armor-plated semi truck makes THUNDER RUN an interesting curio for fans of offbeat action movies. The bad news is that director Gary Hudson doesn’t make the action happen, for the most part, until late in the picture, sticking us with a lot of mediocre teenage hijinks to sit through until the good stuff gets here. With veteran special effects artist Cliff Wenger also listed as a producer and writer and legendary stuntman Alan Gibbs directing the “special action unit,” it’s little surprise that the explosions and stunts are as cool as they are. When they finally arrive.

Ex-trucker Tucker (F TROOP) owns a cobalt mine in Nevada, where he also lives with his wife O’Connor and his grandson Shepherd. Tucker’s old war buddy (Ireland) pops in one day to ask a favor: would Tuck mind picking up a load of plutonium in his rig and driving it a few hundred miles to an Army base in Arizona? There’s $250,000 in it for you, and, oh yeah, some terrorists are going to try to steal your cargo.

The fun begins when Tucker starts frying bad guys with a tricked-out semi that would make Q weep. Are his flamethrowers and battering rams any match for Alan Rachins’ (L.A. LAW) rocket-launching dune buggies? It sure ain’t every day you get to see an 18-wheeler jump over a train, and its wild stunts like that one, as well as the steady presence of the avuncular Tucker behind the steering wheel, that makes THUNDER RUN worth seeing at least once. Characterization is limited to what the actors can bring to their roles, meaning Whitlow and sexy blonde Cheryl Lynn are stuck as eye candy.

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