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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Nighthawks
Directed by Bruce Malmuth
GoodTimes Entertainment 04/81 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R

In the book Crusaders, Criminals, Crazies: Terror and the Terrorism in Our Time, Frederick J. Hacker points out that these arrogant individuals believe "we need them desperately because they have all the simple answers we search for with our complex questions. By trying to compel our thinking and our actions through fear, they attempt to commit rape of the mind; they dehumanize and victimize us by treating us indiscriminately as targets, obstacles, objects, and raw materials to be molded according to their conceptions."

That is the intention of a European terrorist named Wulfgar in the gripping film Nighthawks. He sets a bomb off in a London department store, then calls the murders of clerks and customers there "a blow against British colonialism." His efforts in England are halted after the police find a passport photo of him on a contact he assassinated.

But Wulfgar gets a new face through plastic surgery. He and Shakka, an accomplice, promise to meet in New York City for their biggest terrorist effort yet. Why New York? It is the best place for worldwide press coverage.

Prior to Wulfgar's arrival in the United States, an Interpol inspector who wants to stop this highly skilled fanatic, organizes an Anti-Terrorist Action Command. Police De DaSilva and his partner Willis Fox are yanked from their plainclothes street duties and assigned to the special unit. Despite DaSilva's rigorous law-and-order instincts (his wife left him because of his mania for work), he finds it hard to accept the premise that Wulfgar's destroy-in-order-to-save approach can only be countered by a destroy-the-destroyer strategy. On the streets of New York, he learns more than he wants to know about this terrorist's brilliance, violence and elusiveness.

Nighthawks is a compelling movie with plenty of adrenalin-pumping chase scenes. The pacing is just right, and Malmuth deserves accolades for his directing debut. David Shaber's well-done screenplay vividly conveys the symbiotic relationship between DaSilva and Wulfgar, two men so obsessed with each other that the rest of the world is shut out.

Sylvester Stallone puts in a convincing performance as the street tough DaSilva, and Rutgar Hauer (Soldier of Orange) is menacing as the thoroughly professional and amoral Wulfgar. Also featured are Billy Dee Williams as Willis Fox, Nigel Davenport as the Interpol inspector, Persis Khambatta as Shakka, and Lindsay Wagner as DaSilva's former wife.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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