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This Sylvester Stallone movie may be his best because, unlike most of
his more famous roles over the years, this is very believable. He isn't
Rambo or Rocky...just a tough New York City cop.
Stallone and partner Billy Dee Williams team up in an attempt to stop a terrifying international terrorist (Rutger Hauer) before he kills more people. All three of those actors are riveting in this rough, gritty film.
I thought so much of this movie that I bought it twice. The first DVD that came out was fullscreen, no stereo and grainy. Later, they issued a better widescreen print and it was worth upgrading. The movie is a top-notch thriller start-to-finish and Hauer makes an outstanding villain.
It might be a cliché but this film always "kept m on the edge of my seat. "
It was 1981 and the world had just gone through a decade of terrorism. Casting Rutger Hauer and Persis Khambatta (she was the bald woman in the original Star Trek movie) as heartlessly cold terrorists was great casting! Billy Dee Williams and Stallone as street cops suddenly transferred to a terrorist unit do a good job. Stallone had not become a parody of himself yet and his diction is better here than it had ever been up to then. The movie's pace is unrelenting. This is a movie that I almost always have to stop and watch, easily getting swiped up into the story again and again, when I see it on television. Excellent twist ending and monorail scene. Recommended highly.
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
This is one of the best action movies out there, even to this day. It's a must see especially for Stallone fans. If he chose more of this type of movie, he would be much more respected in Hollywood. Rutger Hauer is awesome as Wulfgar, the international terrorist. All performances are notable, Billy Dee Williams/Sylvester Stallone pairing works well. Stallone really is a great actor, given the right material, and this one certainly provides it. It's a shame he sold out with the "Rocky" sequels.
Wulfgar (Rutger Hauer) is an international terrorist not to be taken
He is wanted by half the countries in Europe
He is currently
financed by no one... He becomes trapped as 'Persona Non Grata'
Wulfgar manages to succeed where others have failed His pattern is the instilling of fear He makes female contacts to establish safe housing for his armory He always covers a woman who is clean... He loses one, he finds another... He has a liking for fancy food, expensive clothes and the most varied nightlife
Wulfgar doesn't think like a criminal He wants to be a hero Since the London incidents, he wants to prove himself as invincible as he ever was So he decides to change his look, and strikes without warning... Wulfgar's associate is Shakka Holland (Persis Khambatta), a pretty cool woman, with no maternal instincts, who murders without apparent provocation
DaSilva (Sylvester Stallone) wants to treat Wulfgar like 'some mugger' on the streets He makes a mistake when he finds himself unexpectedly facing the malevolent killer... He refuses to act in the same ruthlessness Wulfgar does, and to use deadly force in defense of the lives of innocent hostages He hesitates to shoot and kill DaSilva rejected to pay attention to the impact of the terrorist's actions on his thinking and beliefs This mistake enables the best policeman to meet the dangerous terrorist on equal terms
'Nighthawks' turns out to be surprisingly interesting Rutger Hauer easily holds our attention throughout the film He is a disciplined terrorist indifferent to his victims, cold and calculating His mission to harm the enemy transcends any concern about his victims For Wulfgar, the end justifies the means...
Stallone and Billy Dee Williams make good partners Stallone doesn't play his usual character, the ruthless policeman who combats violence with greater violence He seems to be more human desperately trying to do the right thing at the right time
Long before terrorism was on the minds of most Americans, NIGHTHAWKS
tackled the thorny topic. Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are
decoy cops -- that is, they venture into rough neighborhoods to bait
muggers and other forms of scum -- assigned to track down the cold and
calculating Rutger Hauer. It seems the devious mastermind has landed in
the media capital of the world, New York City, to try and regain his
place among the terrorist elite.
Although it's a fairly decent action/suspense effort, NIGHTHAWKS is difficult to recommend unconditionally. The performances are certainly solid; in fact, it's hard to remember Stallone, here sporting a thin beard, being so effective outside of boxing trunks. The action is crisp and exhilarating, with one pursuit through subterranean New York deserving of a place in the Chase Hall of Fame. The story is original and much of the plot intriguing. And Hauer, in his American film debut, is a suitably hateful villain, with his motives all to familiar to contemporary audiences.
Yet NIGHTHAWKS is not quite as good as the sum of its parts. Even though the film starts out with a bang -- literally -- there's somehow too much build-up and not enough execution. The movie has not aged particularly well, and despite its 1981 release date has the feel of a '70s period piece. And as good as Hauer is, his character is a little too incredible to believe as he pulls off massive acts of terror with little or no sponsorship; what should take a team of experts is accomplished by one man wanted by countless law enforcement agencies.
In the end, NIGHTHAWKS is a movie you're bound to like -- either a little bit or a lot. Considering the high ratio of garbage that has and will continue to spew out of Hollywood, I guess that's not such a bad thing.
I was happy to see Premiere magazine remember this flick when they
ranked the 100 Best Thrillers of All Time, and after reading today that
its director has passed on, I can only hope more people will give it a
first or second look. Time has of course given it extra relevance, but
there are three reasons for checking this one out:
1. As hinted above, in the post-9/11 world, its theme of terrorists plotting an attack in New York City seems eerily prophetic.
2. Sylvester Stallone gives an uncharacteristically muted performance that comes off as extremely effective.
3. That ending? They got me. They totally got me.
Director Bruce Malmuth's work here was competent enough to make one wonder just a little if he didn't deserve better projects than he got after this.
Finally, Sly Stallone stars in a film that he really deserves to appear in!
He and Billy Dee Williams make a great team as two no-nonsense New York cops
who chase Rutger Hauer, who has a great role as a remorseless terrorist
(then again, no terrorist has a heart of gold!) Though he's totally
unrecognizable with a long beard, Stallone does an exceptionally good
performance because unlike his other cop roles, such as Ray Tango from
"Tango and Cash", Sly doesn't portray a cocky character, which makes it very
realistic. However, our hero doesn't show his muscles in this flick, but, it
proves that you don't have to be brawny to be a tough guy.
Hauer is also perfect, playing what he does best, an oily villian. He might look very suave at first in this film, but when he shows his true colors, you better watch out. Last but not least is Billy Dee Williams, who does a cool Roger Murtaughesque cop who relies on his partner Sly to do the job.
If you're in the mood for suspense and good chase scenes, "Nighthawks" is your gameplan. Look out for the great conclusion. It might cause you a great deal of shock!
The movie starts well and promising. Initionally the movie seems like a
cool, simple, typical '80's action flick, with some well known actors
in it. However as the movie progresses the pace is gone and the movie
gets filled with underdeveloped plot lines and characters. Luckily the
movie re-finds its pace toward the ending, which helps to make this
movie still a watchable and good one, for the genre-fans.
I think that the main problem with this movie is that its too short. Because of this nothing in the movie really fully gets developed, such as Sylvester Stallone's character's relationship with his ex-wife or who exactly was Peter Hartman, who seemed like a good and interesting enough character but unfortunately was highly underused and developed in the movie. He walked around without a real purpose despite the fact that he could had been a so much more relevant and interesting character for the movie and its story. Also they could had made the whole hunt of DaSilva (Sylvester Stallone) on Wulfgar (Rutger Hauer) so much more exciting, tense and spectacular. An hunter who hunts a hunter. Instead now their hate toward each other feels unfounded and perhaps even silly and unlikely at certain moments.
Yet the tree main characters of the movie are still quite good. The two cops played by Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams form a nice and credible duo and Rutger Hauer perfectly plays a villainous cold-hearted terrorist. Hollywood needs more villain actors like him, it would make so many movies so much better. Its definitely true that the presence of this tree fine actors uplift the movie and help to make this a still slightly above average one.
The whole plot line of a ruthless, professional terrorist causing mayhem in New York is quite original (at least for its period) and works refreshing and help to make this movie quite an original action-flick, although his motivations still remain a bit in the dark and shaky to find it all credible enough.
But of course the movie works well enough as mindless entertainment, though it perhaps could had used some more and bigger action sequences.
The movie has '80's written all over it. Movies from the '80's don't have the greatest visual style and also mostly always have some horrible '80's music. This movie is unfortunately no exception on this all.
All in all its not a bad action flick and it will most likely please the genre-fans, also thanks to the presence of '80's action icon Sylverst Stallone and villain expert actor Rutger Hauer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
NIGHTHAWKS is a remarkable film on many levels and more than eerily
prophetic, considering what took place in New York City twenty years
after its release in 1981. It focuses on two undercover police
detectives, Sgt. Deke DaSilva(SYLVESTER STALLONE) and his partner Sgt.
Matthew Fox(BILLY DEE WILLIAMS)who work in the NYPD Citywide Street
Crime Unit as decoy officers. Donning different disguises, they walk
the streets of the City's toughest neighborhoods, offering themselves
up as bait for muggers and other lowlifes. This unit was responsible
for taking a lot of guns and dangerous people off the streets.
Unfortunately, in the wake of the Amadou Diallo shooting in the Bronx
in 1999, it was disbanded.
The arrival in New York of an international terrorist named Wulfgar(RUTGER HAUER) finds the two Detectives temporarily reassigned to an elite counter-terrorist unit called ATAC. A British expert on counterterrorism in general and Wulfgar in particular(NIGEL DAVENPORT) is recruited by the Department to train the selectees in the different strategies and tactics they'll need to deal with this new threat. His character, Peter Hartman, is an old hand at understanding the terrorist mentality and how they operate. He is also a believer in "taking the shot" when the opportunity presents itself, even if it results in "collateral damage", or death to a civilian hostage.
Stallone's character has a big problem with all this. He indicates that he didn't join the Department to kill people, whether they're street criminals, terrorists, or especially, innocent civilians. Clashing with Hartman at every juncture, he says he doesn't want any part of this and indicates to the Englishman that he's quitting the unit. His partner talks him out of it by telling him that Hartman sees him as one of the best and that's why he was chosen. In reviewing DaSilva's wartime kill record in Vietnam, Hartman tells him that he has faith that when the time comes, he'll do what needs to be done.
Wulfgar is very intelligent, cunning and good-looking and his MO is to hook up with women he meets at discos and move in with them, using their apartments as a safe house. When he meets Pam(HILARIE THOMPSON), an airline stewardess, she asks him what he does for a living. Knowing that she won't believe him, he tells her the truth- that he's an international terrorist wanted by the police in various European countries. When she stumbles upon his weapons stash in her closet after he moves in with her, she realizes too late that what he told her was not a jocular remark. When the police find her body they also find a clue that he inadvertently left behind indicating what his strike target here in the City will be. DaSilva and Fox start scouring the discotheques with the woman's photo in hand to try and get a line on whom she might have hooked up with. They hit paydirt when DaSilva spots whom he suspects might be Wulfgar at a disco with his newly altered facial appearance, courtesy of plastic surgery in Europe. DaSilva uses the police trick of staring Wulfgar down to see if he gets hinky and Wulfgar realizes he's been "made." A chase into the subway ensues, with Wulfgar taking an elderly woman hostage at knifepoint. DaSilva gets him in his sights but doesn't take the shot out of fear of hitting the hostage. In the ensuing chase, Sgt. Fox is ambushed by Wulfgar, who slices his face open and then makes good his escape. DaSilva, whose button has now been pushed, will no longer harbor any illusions about what he's dealing with.
Wulfgar's associate in terrorism is one Shakka Holland, played by the beautiful late Indian actress PERSIS KHAMBATTA. She is so effective in her portrayal of a coldhearted woman who kills without compunction or remorse, that your blood will be chilled when you see her on screen. Without even saying anything, she will terrify you. You will not forget the look on her face. It will definitely haunt your dreams.
We all know that the movie is leading up to a climactic confrontation between DaSilva and Wulfgar. And we know when that moment of truth arrives that DaSilva, now effectively disabused of his "I'm not here to kill anyone" philosophy, will indeed do what needs to be done. I won't reveal the ending here, other than to say that it reflects well on his training and experience in the Street Crime Unit.
This is a well-crafted thriller with excellent performances, beautiful photography, and a storyline that will resonate with the viewer on a visceral level. It will keep you hooked from the opening sequence until the end. Yo Adrian- this is my favorite Stallone film. I give it a 10 out of 10.
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