Saturday 23 December 2023

Movie Review: Nighthawks (1981)

Genre: Terrorism Thriller
Director: Bruce Malmuth
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Rutger Hauer, Billy Dee Williams, Lindsay Wagner, Nigel Davenport
Running Time: 99 minutes

Synopsis: After bombing a retail store in London, brutal terrorist-for-hire Wulfgar (Rutger Hauer) relocates to New York and targets a United Nations meeting. Undercover street-level detectives DaSilva (Sylvester Stallone) and Fox (Billy Dee Williams) are recruited into an anti-terrorism unit being trained by Hartman (Nigel Davenport). Wulfgar continues his terror campaign with a Wall Street bombing, and is then joined by equally ruthless associate Shakka (Persis Khambatta). As the detectives give chase, the duel between Wulfgar and DaSilva becomes personal.

What Works Well: This is a slick, well-paced, expertly constructed, and uncompromising chase thriller, with Rutger Hauer excellent as cold-blooded villain Wulfgar, wreaking havoc on two continents. He is matched by a controlled Sylvester Stallone performance, acing the Serpico look as willing-to-learn protagonist DaSilva. Nigel Davenport adds oodles of class, and director Bruce Malmuth invests in classroom time to dissect a terrorist's psychology. Accompanied by a smooth Keith Emerson music score, the action scenes arrive at regular intervals and always with rational editing, culminating in a suspense-filled centrepiece involving a suspended gondola.

What Does Not Work As Well: The character of Fox deserved more background context, while Wulfgar demonstrates remarkable resilience and short-notice access to all his logistical needs. 

Conclusion: In this deadly chase, brains are as important as brawn.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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