Nighthawks (1981)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Thriller  |  4 April 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 11,757 users  
Reviews: 106 user | 35 critic

Conservative street cop DaSilva reluctantly agrees to terminate an international terrorist who has demanded media attention. But DaSilva's "at-home" tactics are very much put to the challenge.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sgt. Matthew Fox
Peter Hartman
Heymar 'Wulfgar' Reinhardt
Hilary Thompson ...
Pam (as Hilarie Thompson)
Joe Spinell ...
Lt. Munafo
Walter Mathews ...
E. Brian Dean ...
Caesar Cordova ...
Puerto Rican Proprietor
Charles Duval ...
Dr. Ghiselin
Tony Munafo ...
Big Mike
Howard Stein ...
Disco Manager
Tawn Christian ...
Disco Hostess


Deke DaSilva and Matthew Fox are two New York City cops who get transferred to an elite anti-terrorism squad. About this same time, an infamous international terrorist shows up in New York City looking to cause some chaos. It's up to DaSilva and Fox to stop him, but will they be in time...? Written by Afterburner <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A terrorist holds New York in a grip of fear - and only Stallone can take him on. See more »


Action | Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| | |

Release Date:

4 April 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Attack  »

Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Rutger Hauer lost both his mother and his best friend during the production of the movie. He returned to his native Netherlands for both their respective funerals, but returned to the production each time within a few days. Despite all the personal drama and all the difficulties on the set, Hauer stated in his autobiography that he was happy he stayed aboard, as this movie caused him to be noticed in Hollywood, and started an impressive international career. See more »


When the song "Brown Sugar" plays at the disco, the second verse of the song is heard several times. See more »


Heymar 'Wulfgar' Reinhardt: You know, I never asked you what you do for a living.
Pam: Well... besides dancing a lot, I fly Pan Am from coast to coast. I'm Pam, flying ace. That's actually a slight airline joke. I don't really fly the planes. I'm just a stewardess. I flying waitress as they call it. How about you?
Heymar 'Wulfgar' Reinhardt: Me?
Pam: Yes. What do you do for a living?
Heymar 'Wulfgar' Reinhardt: [sarcastic tone] I'm an international terrorist wanted by the police in half the countries in Europe. And I am currently laying low for the moment.
Pam: Oh, sure!
See more »


Referenced in The Hunt for the House on Cuckoo Lane (2011) See more »


Brown Sugar
Written by Mick Jagger (uncredited) and Keith Richards (uncredited)
Performed by The Rolling Stones
Courtesy of ABKCO Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Hauer steals the show
22 August 2004 | by (North Carolina) – See all my reviews

Remember a day when Rutger Hauer starred in good movies that actually saw wide theatrical release? No. Hmmmm. Hauer is one of my favorite actors and stars in two of my top ten favorite movies (Blade Runner and The Osterman Weekend), so it's hard not to already be slightly biased about the movie. I remember first hearing about Nighthawks on the Headliners and Legends biography of Stallone and how it was not as well received as his Rocky and First Blood movies. For shame, because Nighthawks does manage to be a top notch thriller most of the time. I could go into the plot, but I believe in telling people what I liked and disliked instead of parroting the plot details like almost every other review. (See, a movie to me is more fun when I only know a little about the story, instead of the first hour or so, because someone felt that they had to readers digest the entire film.)

Anyway, now that I've ranted, I have to admit that I enjoyed it for the most part, with the exception of the initial pacing. It continues to drag in places towards the middle, and takes a little over an hour to set up the crucial players backgrounds. The only real problem is that every time the film stops to focus on DeSilva (Stallone) and Fox (Williams), it spends twice as much time focusing on Wulfgar. Wulfgar is certainly a well crafted maniac, but when the movie is over we know almost nothing about Fox and only a little about Dee DeSilva. Still, the movie does succeed in making you care about our two main characters, by thrusting them into danger and having them do what is morally right (i.e. Towards the beginning of the film the two are in a drug raid, and refuse to take bribes from the perps who had apparently already paid off the cops from the first raid on their operation.

They're good cops, and it's their good guy image that endears them). I guess it would have been nice also to see a little more of Stallones relation to what's her name. (sorry, I haven't seen this in a about a month now.) I was interested in the prospect of a hero who was torn between the relation with his ex (who he was trying to re-ignite the flame with), and his duty. But, alas, she was just a narrative device who the writers have decided is only important in the last 15 minutes or so.

With all these cons, why did I still like it? Sudden scenes of high impact, good cast and acting all around, a villain who wasn't just a cardboard cutout, and Stallone's bitchin' beard, and a wholly convincing scenario.

The bottom line: This film is more akin to The French Connection than it is to Rocky. Methodical and often stylish, NightHawks deserves to at least be rented and watched with an open mind.

8 Stars out of 10

25 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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