|Rutger Hauer & Sylvester Stallone|
NYPD detectives Deke DaSilva (Stallone) and Matthew Fox (Williams) are re-assigned to a newly created task force when international terrorist Heymar Reinhardt (aka Wulfgar) goes rogue and is reported to be in New York. DaSilva and Fox are tasked to work with Scotland Yard Inspector Hartman, who has been tracking Wulfgar for years. The driven, obsessed Hartman tries to impress upon the detectives that Wulfgar is an amoral, cold-blooded and violent killer, and they’ll have be just as ruthless as he is in order to stop him. As Wulfgar cuts a violent path across the city, DaSilva, Fox and Hartman hunt him and his partner, Shakka. The cops and the Scotland Yard inspector tangle with them at various locations, including a disco, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in an exciting sequence, the Roosevelt Island tram system. But Wulfgar continues to evade capture, taunting our heroes and escaping them at every turn. It all culminates in a climactic showdown between DaSilva and Wulfgar when the villain threatens the detective’s estranged wife, Irene.
Nighthawks had a troubled history. The film’s initial director was Gary Nelson, who helmed the original Freaky Friday and The Black Hole for Disney. Nelson was fired from the project early on, and replaced by Bruce Malmuth. According to some sources, Stallone also directed a number of scenes during production. The movie was also re-edited before release to focus more on Stallone’s character, and to tone down some of the more graphic violence. On the plus side, film was made before the digital age, so what you’re seeing on screen is real, not CGI. Stallone actually did most of his own stunts. The movie also benefits greatly from Hauer’s intense, chilling performance as Wulfgar. He and Stallone make great adversaries, and you can feel the sparks fly between them onscreen. The rest of the cast is also very effective, including Nigel Davenport as Inspector Hartman, Lindsay Wagner as Irene and Persis Khambatta (Lt. Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture) as Shakka. Character actor Joe Spinell (who often played mobsters and villains) appears as the detectives NYPD boss, Lieutenant Munafo, and Catherine Mary Stewart (Night of the Comet) has a small role as a salesgirl in a sequence set in London early in the film.
Nighthawks is a riveting, fast-paced thriller. The location filming, strong performances and the exciting action sequences add to the film’s gritty, realistic tone. The pulsating score was composed by Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame. The movie was modestly successful on its original run, but gained more fans when it was shown regularly on cable and broadcast television during the 1980s. Hauer’s career in the United States took off after his roles in Nighthawks and Blade Runner, and he worked steadily in film and television until his recent passing. He also founded an AIDS awareness organization, The Starfish Association, and supported several environmental groups, including the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Nighthawks has been released on DVD and Blu-ray. Here’s a link to the film’s trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnvbtAoucPU.