At the risk of being redundant...
Steven W. Hill | Chicago, IL United States | 01/03/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"At the risk of being redundant... I have to echo some previously written reviews here. The film is good, but needs to be viewed in the context of its era. In other words, if you compare it to terrorist thrillers of recent years it seems a bit simple, lacking in complexity. In reality it only points out that today's thrillers are perhaps TOO complex for their own good. What we have here is a memorable movie with strong acting and some good setpieces. Stallone plays his character very nicely and believably. The ending may or may not be a predictable one, but it is certainly an unforgettable one.Alas, the DVD presentation is a disappointment. The film is presented full-frame. I was unable to determine what its original aspect ratio is, but even 1.66 would be an improvement over 1.33. The picture quality is good but a bit muddy. Sound is okay, and there are no significant extras. About its only advantage is that it's better quality than a VHS copy would be, and the price is reasonable. Otherwise, if you already own a video copy, I wouldn't recommend upgrading to the DVD."
One of the few gems in Stallone's action film catalogue
B.C. Scribe | Brooklyn Center, MN USA | 12/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A first-rate thriller 'Nighthawks' begins with a bang (literally!) and never lets ups. A top-notch cast, great use of New York City locations and a story that becomes more riveting as it develops further distinguish it. This film was made and released in 1981, a few short years before Sylvester Stallone would begin making his blockbuster mainstream action films like 'First Blood', 'Cobra' and continuing the 'Rocky' series. He has portrayed a variety of "heroes" on film but all of them pale in comparison to the character of Deke DaSilva, the New York City policeman he brings to life here. 'Nighthawks' has a plot that is timelier than ever before and DaSilva is the kind of hero that everyone is hoping for amidst all the concern over the threat of terrorism striking again in America - or anywhere else for that matter.Stallone is aces as DaSilva and Billy Dee Williams as his edgy partner Matthew Fox is equally as good. DaSilva and Fox are fervently committed to their assignment to the NYC police force's decoy unit working the graveyard shift. Rutger Hauer plays a consciousless terrorist named Wulfgar who in the beginning of the movie plants a bomb in a London department store during midday. Moments after the bomb explodes he calls the international press to claim responsibility for his terrorist faction. Days later, when Wulfgar is considered more of a liability than an effective member of the team by his faction, he relocates to NYC to demonstrate his own brand of intimidation through violence. Interpol agent Peter Hartman, played by the British film actor Nigel Davenport, arrives in NYC to train a newly organized anti-terrorist task force of the city's police force. DaSilva And Fox are assigned to the unit and they initially object vehemently to it but later accept it after a few trials and tribulations with Hartman. Eventually the two policemen pick up the trail of the murderous and destructive Wulfgar who continually evades capture until the climax of the film - one of the best surprise endings you'll ever see in a movie.The story is the real star here with action taking a secondary stage. In the beginning we see DaSilva and Fox in their urban setting capturing some deadly would-be muggers then switching immediately to London and Wulfgar planting a bomb in a busy store during the same day. The parallel we're supposed to draw is that the pair of gritty and municipal minded police officers will face their biggest challenge in attempting to capture the slick, conniving and elusive international terrorist. And the story's progression is perfect, never moving too quickly or filled with illogical leaps of reasoning. Each filming location is well chosen and used to great effectiveness, with the tramcar sequence a memorable standout. Despite being made in 1981 'Nighthawks' contains no noticeable elements that date it too terribly, even the disco scene remains surprisingly contemporary in appearance (except for the fashions maybe).Other noteworthy items include the then hugely popular Lindsay Wagner, of television's "The Bionic Woman", who appears briefly in the beginning as DaSilva's unlikely love interest, an upscale clothing fashion designer; character actor and cult favorite Joe Spinell is cast as DaSilva's and Fox's superior, Lt. Munafo, appearing in some of the film's key scenes. For a double feature pair this with either 'Cliffhanger', another superior Stallone action vehicle, or 'The Package', a Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones movie with a vaguely similar theme."
Stallone's Finest Moment
Mr. Richard D. Coreno | Berea, Ohio USA | 10/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The 1981 release saw Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams in a police thriller based in New York City during the "endless" party of the Disco-era.
Stallone - as Det. Deke DaSilva - and Williams - as Det. Matthew Fox - are in pursuit of an international terrorist, portrayed masterfully by Rutger Hauer, who gets lost in the masses in the city. The search becomes personal as DaSilva's wife - played by Lindsay Wagner - is targeted to be killed by the terrorist.
It is not a shoot-'em-up, as the well-paced scenes take the audience onto the streets and into the discos and subways. The near miss in the club - with the crush of dancers, pulsating beat and the urgency of the hunter(s) and the hunted - is especially dynamic.
In some ways a period piece for the genre, Nighthawks arguably is the finest work by Stallone and holds up after all these years because you are apprehending the terrorist with the detectives.
A small gem
N. P. Stathoulopoulos | Brooklyn, NY | 08/10/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film plays a bit like an 80s French Connection. Sylvester Stallone stars in a low-key role that works very well but didn't seem to resonate with audiences the way his Rocky did. He's quieter, human, and intense. Nighthawks (a rather nonsensical title) concerns international terrorist Wulfar (Rutger Hauer's American film debut), now persona non grata among major terrorist networks after an overdone IRA-commissioned bombing in London, fleeing to New York in order to garner maximum publicity and sell himself back to major terrorist organizations. Sensing the terrorist-for-hire's power play hopes, and guessing that New York would be the likely target, a British Interpol officer travels to the city in order to brief chosen police officers in counter-terrorist tactics as part of ATAC (Anti-Terrorist Action Command). Part of the chosen officers include Sgt. Deke DaSilva (Stallone) and his partner Sgt. Matt Fox (Billy Dee Williams). Both are reluctant to change duties and are not serious about training, and DaSilva has reservations about risking civilians in a hostage situation. What follows is a cat-and-mouse through New York that features a couple of exciting and well-filmed sequences. While it seems a bit far-fetched that DaSilva and Fox would bump into Wulfgar one night in a crowded disco, the action scenes make up for it and highlight New York locations well. Especially memorable is the hijacking of the Roosevelt Island tram car. (I can't look at it today without thinking of this film). The performances are solid across the board. Stallone is engaging in the lead and is quieter than we're used to. The supporting cast includes veteran character Joe Spinell as a surly police lieutenant, Lindsay Wagner as DaSilva's estranged wife, the dusky Persis Khambata as Wulfgar's ruthless aid, and Nigel Davenport as Hartman, the Interpol officer. Rutger Hauer is perfect as the sly and suave terrorist. His talents would be highlighted in films like Blade Runner, Flesh and Blood, and The Hitcher over the years, though unfortunately he seems to have fallen to straight-to-video material in the last 10 years. The DVD is a little bit underwhelming. For one, it's not in widescreen, which is a real shame. The full-screen treatment does not do justice to the NYC locations, especially the aerial shots of the tram and the ATAC chopper, or the opening subway encounter. The picture is good but rather grainy, and the sound is fine, better than the VHS version. The extras include some cursory production notes and the original, rather underwhelming trailer. Overall, I'd recommend this DVD for fans of the film because of the very reasonable price. The picture and sound are better than the VHS, and it's a good pickup for a small early-80s gem. Keith Emerson's score is easily one of his best. Hopefully it will one day be released to CD."