Times Staff Writer

What fun it is to see Forrest Tucker and John Ireland on the screen again--and what a relief it is that “Thunder Run” (citywide) proves to be a perfectly respectable little action picture that treats these sturdy Hollywood veterans with the respect they deserve.

Ireland plays a government agent who hires his old Army buddy Tucker to deliver a shipment of plutonium, driving a heavily armored semi across the Arizona desert. The catch is that Tucker is to be the bait in a trap for a band of international terrorists.

But Tucker, a retired truck driver, can hardly refuse a $250,000 fee when his cobalt mine has proved a dud. Pretty soon he and his stowaway grandson (John Shepherd), a drag racer, are running a gantlet that includes such exotically lethal vehicles as a pair of Volkswagens armed with heat-seeking missiles.

“Thunder Run” was developed by veteran special-effects expert Clifford Wenger Sr. and his wife, Carol Lynn, and it emphasizes stunts involving crashing-and-burning vehicles. However, writers Charles Davis and Carol Heyer, in adapting a story by the Wengers, have given some attention to the people. Still trim and rugged, Tucker has a warm, easy manner that works well with both Shepherd and Marilyn O’Connor, who plays his attractive wife. Ireland is solid in his brief appearance.


“Thunder Run” (rated PG-13), directed with appropriate briskness by Gary Hudson, is no “Wages of Fear” and is too elementary to generate much suspense. But it’s pleasant and remarkably free of undue violence. Now if somebody would only have the imagination to bring Tucker and Ireland back to the big league where they belong.


A Cannon release of a Lynn-Davis/Panache production. Executive producer Peter E. Strauss. Producer Carol Lynn. Co-producer Lawrence Appelbaum. Director Gary Hudson. Screenplay Charles Davis, Carol Heyer; from a story by Clifford Wenger Sr. and Carol Lynn. Camera Harvey Genkins. Music Jay Levy. Special-action unit coordinator Alan Gibbs. Stunt coordinator Rod Amateau. Supervising film editor Burton Lee Harry. Additional editing Marcus Manton. With Forrest Tucker, John Ireland, John Shepherd, Jill Whitlow, Wally Ward, Cheryl M. Lynn, Marilyn O’Connor, Graham Ludlow.

Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes.


MPAA rating: PG-13 (parents are strongly cautioned; some material may be inappropriate for children under 13).