Monday, 22 July 2013

God Only Knows!:- Hudson Hawk (1991)

Hudson Hawk is a 1991 Action/Adventure/Comedy film starring Bruce Willis, Andie MacDowell, James Coburn, Richard E. Grant, Sandra Bernhard and David Caruso (among others, all in all theres quite a few biggish names in this flick).

The film itself revolves around the premise that Leonardo Da Vinci accidentally discovered a way to turn lead into gold whilst looking for a way to mass produce cheap bronze that he needed in order to build a giant statue of a horse he had been commissioned to make for the Italian noble house of Sforza.
Knowing this invention would probably cause problems, Da Vinci hid the three parts of a crystal required for his gold making machine in some of his artworks.
500 years later, Eddie "Hudson Hawk" Hawkins, a master thief is blackmailed into stealing these artworks by a conglomerate of groups consisting of a small time mafia family, a rogue C.I.A spec ops unit, the Vatican's secret service and a disgustingly rich married couple called Darwin and Minerva Mayflower.

Now, ill be honest, this film is AWFUL, which reflected in its reviews at the time of its release, and subsequent poor box office and home video performance, however, in recent years Hudson Hawk has become something of a cult hit, due to its pseudo religious steam/clockworkpunk-esque leanings, as well as its rather bizarre and unholy amalgamation of cartoon-esque violence, farcical comedy and over the top action.

There are a few running gags that occur throughout the film, first and foremost is Hawks inability to enjoy a cup of cappuccino, which was first on his "to do" list after he got released from prison, but every time he manages to get his hands on one, it ends up being ruined by one means or another.

The second major running gag in the film is Grant and Bernhards portrayal of the comic book villains of the piece, the Mayflowers. This married villain team are so ridiculously over the top that scenes with them in end up being both painful to watch but also horrendously unintentionally funny.

The third major running gag is Hawks budding relationship with the Vatican secret agent Anna Baragli (MacDowell), whom everyone other than Hawk himself knows is a nun, and thus not really able to enter into a relationship with anyone.

The actual film itself doesnt seem to be able to decide whether it wants to be a family movie or an adult oriented action movie. Co-written by Willis himself, the film features many scenes of cartoony violence, which would make it an ideal family movie, however it then goes on to feature scenes with a lot of swearing and scenes of a sexual nature, as well as some scenes which would be considered too violent for the average child, even back in 1991 when it was released.
These two things combined confused audiences and critics alike, one minute you were seeing Willis engaging in a farcical fistfight with someone, the next he was telling someone that they were "motherfuckers" before blowing them up with a bomb, its almost as if Willis' contribution to the screenplay was simply handing the scriptwriters a  copy of the shooting script for "Die Hard 2" (which he had just recently starred in) and told them to use that as inspiration.
Bad editing also has a lot to answer for, as many of the scenes lurch uncomfortably from one to another, which often creates plot holes or bizarre non-sequiturs (possibly an attempt to keep up the "comic book" tone of the film). Elements of exposition seemed to be trimmed down or rushed through in order to maintain a "fast paced" filming style.

To sum up, "Hudson Hawk" is a bad film simply because it watches like an ego trip on Willis's part, with Willis himself not really putting in much of an effort to make Hawk an interestign character outisde of his occasional foul mouthed outbursts or smug satisfaction when he pulls off a job, and then there's the musical numbers...oh god the musical numbers....a recurring theme is that Hawk and his partner in crime Tommy "five-tone" Messina sing songs in order to keep time when performing jobs. This was a gag worked in basically to add something to what would be normally tedious scenes of them breaking into buildings or performing tasks required to set up the theft of something, but instead it just makes for uncomfortable viewing as they both give away their positions and/or reach a crescendo duet at the climax of a job, oh, and most of these duets were featured on the films soundtrack album to boot, not that anyone of sound mind bought it.

One final word, the religious aspect of this film is encompassed totally by the Vaticans self interest in preventing anyone from stealing art treasures from its vaults, cue lots of mumblings about God not approving and so on.

Yeah, Hudson Hawk, a good idea, ruined by egotism, bad editing, corny jokes and simply not knowing what direction it was wanting to head in.

I give it 3 sacrificial lambs out of 10.

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