‘Nighthawks’ is one of those movies that I have very fond memories of as an early teen, and for the life of me I don’t know why. I mean I just watched it a few moments ago, and while I did enjoy it just doesn’t seem like the kind of movie that a fourteen year old boy would like. Even though ‘Nighthawks’ is classified as an ‘Action Crime Thriller’ the majority the movie is almost an anti-terrorist procedural since we spend a lot of time in a classroom setting listening to Nigel Davenport talk. But then we do have a movie starring Rocky Balboa, Lando Calrissian, The Bionic Woman, Roy Batty and the bald chick from that Star Trek movie so all that coming together for one movie could also be a reason why a fourteen year old boy thought this movie was cool. Who Knows.
Deke DeSilva (Sylvester Stallone) and Matthew Fox (Billy Dee Williams) are a couple of hard assed tough ass cops who don’t play the rules. The thing about these two cops is that they do EVERYTHING for the NYPD. Decoy team… call DeSilva and Fox. Assault team… call DeSilva and Fox. Sniper team… call DeSilva and Fox. I’m sure if we were to spend a little more time with them we’d seem them handing out parking tickets.
On the other side of the world is international super smart terrorist Wulfgar (Rutger Hauer) who has just blown up some stuff in a way so heinous that even the people who he blew this stuff up for thought he was out of line. Not happy about this situation Wulfgar feels the need to reestablish himself as the top dog terrorist of the world so it’s off to New York, along with his absolutely out her mind assistant Shakka (Persis Khamabatta) to install some fear into some United States citizens.
Aware of Wulfgar’s plans… because he just is… is Interpol agent Peter Hartman (Davenport) who has rounded up the NYPD’s best, including the incredibly reluctant DeSilva and Fox and inflicted upon these cops the most boring and tedious counter
terrorism class in the history of mankind so that they can stop this clown who has already started blowing up stuff. Deke agrees with me on this by the way. DeSilva is also trying to reconnect with his ex-wife Irene (Lindsay Wagner), but truthfully Ms. Wagner serves almost no purpose in this movie except the usual purpose of a woman in an action movie who is connected to a hero pursuing a really bad dude.
Eventually DeSilva and Wulfgar cross paths but because of DeSilva’s lack of heart, when he needed it most, Billy Dee’s pretty face got sliced up. Billy Dee was not happy about this. At all. It also seems that Wulfgar really doesn’t like getting chased because now he’s super pissed of at DeSilva who really didn’t anything to him except chase him through New York City and not shoot him when he had a chance. Regardless a showdown looms between the brutal terrorist and the cop who had no heart when he needed it most. Who will win?
Revisiting ‘Nighthawks’ unveils an odd movie. Outside of the fact that the title means absolutely nothing… I mean most of the action in this takes place during the day anyway, but it is an odd mix of genres. When ‘Nighthawks’ chose to be an action movie it was a very good action movie but there were really only a couple of action pieces in the movie. One of the more amazing ones was watching Rutger Hauer sprint through New York City. Was this cat like some kind of track star back in his native Holland? Hauer was straight up booking through the streets of New York. It was funny because he was clearly running much faster than Sly and Billy Dee but yet they were always close behind. Rutger Hauer would seriously dust those dudes in real life. At least back in 1981.
As a counter terrorism thriller this movie had potential and was building up to something towards that angle but completely got away from it, especially when you consider how much classroom time we had to deal with. The first issue was with some odd acts that the writers had Wulfgar and Shakka perform followed up with the curious choice to have the character of Wulfgar, who is supposed to be this genius, paint himself into a corner with a no-win terrorist decision. This in turn led to another series of outlandish events and then to a pretty predictable ending, even though I think I was shocked by this ending as fourteen year old if I remember correctly. Also the relationship between DeSilva and his ex-wife was so glossed over it was rendered almost inert which is too bad because it looked there was something there if they had chose to develop it.
That aside Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams worked really well together, so well in fact it’s too bad they didn’t make more movies. I know they’re both still kicking but at sixty plus and seventy plus… I don’t know. Hell, I’d watch it anyway. Plus Sly was rocking that beard something fierce. Rutger Hauer has always been a good villain, even though his exit in this one was kind of anti-climactic considering how rotten he was in this movie and the movie had nice gritty feel to it and played to the strengths of New York City as a backdrop for an urban crime drama.
‘Nighthawks’ wasn’t as good as I remembered it be upon this revisit, but it was still an entertaining movie and it was good to see Sly and Billy Dee again back when they were on top of the world running things.