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Movie Info

A Vietnam veteran who returns home after years in a POW camp, Maj. Charles Rane (William Devane) is treated as a hero, but his family proves to be distant. When thugs invade his home to steal silver coins that Rane received for his service, they mangle his hand and leave him, his wife and son for dead. Rane survives and becomes obsessed with getting revenge. Aided by his loyal friend Johnny Vohden (Tommy Lee Jones), Rane, now wielding a hook for a hand, sets out on his mission of vengeance.

Cast & Crew

William Devane
Major Charles Rane
Tommy Lee Jones
Johnny Vohden
Linda Haynes
Linda Forchet
Luke Askew
Automatic Slim
Paul Schrader
Screenwriter
Heywood Gould
Screenwriter
Lawrence Gordon
Executive Producer
Barry De Vorzon
Original Music
Jordan Cronenweth
Cinematographer
Stephen Myles Berger
Art Director
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Critic Reviews for Rolling Thunder

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (2)

  • Flynn's crisp, laconic direction and evocative use of Southern Texas locations transorm Rolling Thunder, now at area theaters, into a more distinctive exploitation movie than it deserves to be.

    December 21, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Performances are made crystalline through a sixth sense for camera placement and curt cutting from director John Flynn, whose 2007 passing was little noted, though his no-BS way of laying down a story is a rare commodity in any era.

    August 1, 2012 | Full Review…
  • In sum, it neither rolls nor thunders.

    March 26, 2009 | Full Review…
  • [It] has some good things, but in the way it has been directed by John Flynn it moves so easily and sort of foolishly toward its violent climax that all the tension within Charlie has long since escaped the film.

    May 9, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • The film should be viewed by any pondering war and its psychological consequences. And, if not made clear enough already, the acting on offer is simply fantastic.

    February 28, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The connection to an emotional truth is key to its success, because as the plot starts moving and the elements of the violent revenge flick start rearing their head, the movie feels grounded in Rane's reality.

    July 22, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Rolling Thunder

  • Dec 28, 2015
    A genuinely uncomprimising and heartfelt story of a tortured POW suvivor with nothing but the prospect of vengence to offer him solace from the anger, alienation, and loneliness he feels upon his return home to San Antonio. William Devane delivers a hauntingly restrained performance as Charlie, a deeply tortured man trying to quietly hold himself together after the devastation of the Vietnam war. Don't let the B grade trappings mislead you, this is powerful stuff. Great early performance from Tommy Lee Jones too. A true gem of the Vietnam War films.
    Super Reviewer
  • Feb 04, 2014
    Predating Rambo by five years but telling a similiar story. The problem is that it slacks off in the middle thereby killing any tension and thusly ambles into the final shoot-out.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • May 19, 2013
    Revenge films of the 1970's have always were something unique in terms of acting and sheer bad asssed entertainment value. Charles Bronson delivered in Death Wish and that film became one of the standout revenge films of the era. I can think of only one film that comes close to the raw power of Death Wish and that's Rolling Thunder, a powerful action drama starring William Devane and Tommy Lee Jones and brilliantly directed by John Flynn. Films like this show a raw and intense gritty quality that makes for a truly intense viewing experience. With a great cast at hand, Flynn delivers a great movie that is unflinching and highly entertaining from start to finish. John Flynn takes his time to let the story unfold and you steadily get more a more involved as the film progresses to a riveting and thrilling final. This is an effective action picture that stands out due to the great performances and the effective story that is pretty basic, but is constantly exciting due to the fact that it feels like an in your face type of film that just grabs your attention. Quentin Tarantino has said that this was one of his favorite films, and I can understand why. Devane delivers and his character is perplexed with bringing a brand of revenge to the thugs that have murdered his wife and son. If you love old school action flicks that are brilliantly acted and tell a great story with using the basics, then this is the film for you. This is a thrill ride that takes time to unfold, but when it does, it comes with a great payoff. Rolling Thunder is one of the moist memorable revenge films that I have seen. Rolling Thunder is an exciting and bold picture that proves that you can easily create effective action without the big explosions that big studio productions have.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Mar 25, 2012
    This grindhouse classic rises above the level of a normal b-movie revenge flick and earns it's reputation as a low-budget American masterpiece. The scene of the gang stealing the coins from Major Rane is one of the most tense and terrifying scenes I've seen.
    Graham J Super Reviewer

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