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Overall Rating
3.45

Awesome: 9.09%
Worth A Look: 27.27%
Average63.64%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 5 user ratings


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Nighthawks
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by Jack Sommersby

"Stallone Wears a Dress as Well as a Gun"
3 stars

Between "Rocky" films Stallone dialed it down a few notches here, much to his accomplishment.

It’s really a shame that the action-thriller Nighthawks is such a shambles in the screenplay department being that the workmanlike direction, acute editing and superb performances prove themselves highly virtuous with star Sylvester Stallone’s stellar work the standout. He plays Deke DaSilva (what a cool name!), a New York cop working decoy detail with partner Matthew Fox (Billy Dee Williams) -- they dress as vulnerable older ladies and briefcase-carrying businessmen in the rough parts of town to draw out muggers -- until they’re assigned to a counterterrorism unit determined to stop an international terrorist known as Wulfgar (Rutger Hauer), who’s come to the Big Apple for primo press coverage in bringing United Nations members “to their knees”.

With the hunter and the hunted perfectly complimenting each other (the latter super-suave and the former hard-streets-tough), we’re all set for a marvelous matching of wits between them yet are brought up more than a bit short on occasion due to David Shaber’s shabby writing, which is laden with logic loopholes. Before coming to the U.S. Wulfgar complains of his organization not funding him properly, so how does he come up with the money to go overseas and set up shop with very little trouble? After killing a woman he picked up at a disco to house him, would he really leave his suitcase full of weapons unlocked in the woman’s closet as well as leaving a map of the United Nations on a table in the apartment living room as well as frequenting right afterward the very same club he picked her up at? In a heavily-secured political reception, how does Wulfgar’s associate manage to bring in a gun? And, pray tell, when DaSilva has Wulfgar in his sights a very short distance away on a dance floor, why does he shout out his name which results in him escaping rather than sneaking up and apprehending him?

True, one doesn’t exactly require airtight plotting in cinematic endeavors such as this, but when the hero and villain are intended to be highly intelligent, the script craters really show through. Luckily, the director, Bruce Malmuth, whose first actioner this is, keeps it all streamlined and, with his two editors, expertly paced. (You won’t be bored, I assure you.) The locale shooting is gritty and acid-etched, and even with a schematic story structure there’s an aliveness to the scenes with a you-are-there vitality that’s quite fetching. Keith Emerson’s pumped-up score has drive. And most of the characters are three-dimensional, even Lindsay Wagner’s thankless role as DaSilva’s estranged lover who figures deliciously in a delightful final plot twist that’s audience-pleasing in the best sense. But it’s Stallone who holds everything together. Bearded and bespectacled and fleshier than usual, he holds back on any blowhard tendencies and underplays beautifully, suggesting a lot and overstating very little, creating a stalwart whose every move, every gesture is a pleasure to watch. (There’s a wonderful moment where DaSilva and his won’t-give-an-inch Interpol superior drop their guard and agree to a Chinese dinner in passing.) Stallone’s first-rate, and while this can’t be said of the problematic film, it manages to entertain from start to finish without missing much of a beat.

Didn't set the box-office on fire but proves agile-enough stuff for the undemanding.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7813&reviewer=327
originally posted: 05/23/09 11:48:31
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User Comments

7/13/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess White knockle thriller! 4 stars
3/11/08 action movie fan great film with stallone pursuing slick terrorist-great action and locales 5 stars
1/27/05 R.W. Welch Okay actioner with good villain, Davenport very effective. 4 stars
6/12/03 Jack Sommersby Logical loppholes can't totally undermine this 1st-rate crime thriller. Great casting. 4 stars
6/10/03 Charles Tatum Tight actioner negated by gimmicky finale 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  04-Apr-1981 (R)
  DVD: 11-May-2004

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