After chucking in life on the road to purchase a struggling cobalt mine, ex-truckie Charlie Morrison (Forrest Tucker) is starting to feel the pinch financially, and fears that the retirement plans for himself and his ever-loving wife Maggie (Marilyn O’Connor) are slipping away. However, an old military friend, George Adams (John Ireland), offers Charlie $250,000 to transport a load of plutonium from Nevada to Arizona. But there is one significant catch – a deadly terrorist group will stop at nothing to steal the load.
Charlie’s grandson, local street racer Chris (John Shepherd), has been trying to help his granddad out by racing for cash, but the future of the mine really hinges on an injection of funds by a keen investor (Lester Bundy). When the investment meeting goes haywire after Chris’s mate Paul (Wally Ward) accidentally squashes the money man’s ’68 Impala with a wheel loader, Charlie is left with no choice but to accept George’s deal and prepare for a ‘thunder run’.
Thankfully, Paul is a computer whiz, blending those talents with Charlie’s old-school military nous to prepare their weapon of choice: a Kenworth W-model semi loaded with gadgets and munitions to help fend off the likely terrorist attack.
Once they set out on their mission, it isn’t long before Charlie and Chris are balls-deep in trouble. Attacks on the semi come thick and fast from the terrorist crew, headed by the stony-faced Carlos (Alan Rachins). When the terrorists’ two-wheeled and four-wheeled options fail, Charlie is left to duke it out, truck versus truck, with the seemingly unkillable Carlos.
Thankfully, Chris has one last weapon up his sleeve: his nitrous-equipped C10 pick-up secreted in the weirdest big-rig sleeper cab you’re ever likely to see. A healthy shot of gas is just what is needed to clear the security lasers at the military test facility.
That’s right, I said lasers, which is just one of the film’s 1980s staples; there’s also a synthesiser-based soundtrack; heavily fuelled, corkscrew car explosions; and the obligatory hot blonde (Cheryl Lynn) who also knows how to handle a dirt bike.
Heavily in B-grade territory, Thunder Run was the final feature for star Forrest Tucker, who passed away shortly after the film’s release. Both Tucker and his co-star Marilyn O’Connor were box-office stars of the 1950s and provide the only quality acting in this flick. Otherwise, the plot is basic and the remaining performances mediocre, so my solid four-out-of-five score is purely for the plentiful, thoroughly enjoyable stunt action sequences and the glorious symphony of the ‘Screamin’ Jimmy’ two-stroke diesels that feature throughout.
- 1975 Kenworth W900
- 1973 Chevrolet C10
- 1963 Chevrolet Corvette
- 1968 Chevrolet Impala convertible
- 1963 Ford Fairlane wagon
- Volkswagen Beetle Baja Bug
- 1977 Plymouth Fury
- 1974 Kenworth K100
- 1969 Toyota Corona
- 1985 Honda CR125
- Yamaha DT250
- Forrest Tucker
- John Shepherd
- Alan Rachins
- Marilyn O’Connor
- Jill Whitlow
- Cheryl Lynn
- Wally Ward
- Graham Ludlow
- John Ireland
- Lester Bundy
Police chases, truck chases and street racing involving everything from two wheels to 18 wheels; they even jump a semi!
A cash-strapped retired truck driver is propositioned by an ex-Korean War buddy to deliver a load of plutonium in exchange for $250K
Cool flick fact:
Thunder Run is the first and only movie to have featured a stunt jump using a complete semi-trailer (above) rather than just a truck or prime mover.