Blu-ray Review: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot BR CoverDistributor: Second Sight Films

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: Michael Cimino

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, Geoffrey Lewis, George Kennedy, Catherine Bach, Gary Busey

In a decade chock-full of road movies, 1974′s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is one of the real standouts, mainly thanks to the chemistry between the two leads – always a bonus in a buddy movie – and a strong supporting cast, but also to some solid direction from Michael Cimino (Heaven’s Gate).

Retired thief Thunderbolt (Clint Eastwood – Dirty Harry/Gran Torino) is filling his time doing a bit of preaching when he is attacked and chased by a gunman. As he escapes he runs into young car thief Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges – Iron Man/True Grit) and the pair team up. The gunman returns and reveals himself to be Red Leary (George Kennedy – Hired To Kill/The Naked Gun), an old gang partner of Thunderbolt’s who is looking for some payback after an alleged double-cross on their last heist, so Thunderbolt placates him and his buddy Eddie Goody (Geoffrey Lewis – The Devil’s Rejects) by offering to take them to where the loot was hidden. Naturally, it isn’t there anymore so the four plan a new robbery on the same place as before, only with suspicions high and Lightfoot’s young and reckless attitude rubbing Red up the wrong way, things aren’t going to go quite as planned.

At just shy of two hours long, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a little long for this type of crime caper and the first hour does have moments that feel a little stretched out as we are introduced to the two main characters. But when the two characters are played by two actors on top of their game then it is time worth spending, as Eastwood and Bridges play two of the most likeable characters ever seen in a buddy movie. Eastwood, still riding high after Dirty Harry and Magnum Force, is at his most stoic, doing his mean n’ moody act and drawing your attention by doing nothing more than raising an eyebrow, whereas Bridges fills the screen with his youthful brashness, the perfect counterpoint to Eastwood’s stoicism, and his youth-versus-experience spats with George Kennedy are just as hilarious.

The support from Kennedy and the ever-reliable Geoffrey Lewis rounds things out nicely, with Lewis playing the comic relief without going too far. The film cranks up the tension in the second half when the gang put their plan into action, and plays out in a rather unconventional manner, or at least, unconventional when you put it up against other buddy road movies or Clint Eastwood’s other non-Dirty Harry movies of the ’70s. The Blu-ray is bare-bones and has no extras, which is a little disappointing, and the film may be more attractive to fans of ’70s cinema than to your average 21st century teenage moviegoer, but for sheer entertainment purposes Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is totally engaging and terrific fun.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

Special Features: None.

UK Release Date: 23rd June 2014

Second Sight Films – Website

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