Thursday, May 20, 2010
“I'll torture you so slowly, you'll think it's a career.”
1991’s Hudson Hawk is not one of them. Let’s explore!
So our hero gets out of jail after ten years with every intention of going straight and leaving cat burglary behind. And he wants a cappuccino. Unfortunately, it seems like everybody in the world wants to blackmail him into stealing several of Leonardo Da Vinci’s artifacts. What follows, in no particular order, are crooked CIA agents, the Mob, some insane corporate types, the Vatican and a device that can turn lead to gold, which on paper sounds much less insane than it actually is.
Eddie “Hudson Hawk” Hawkins: Bruce Willis is our Hero, a guy down on his luck who just can’t seem to get away from his old life. He’s likable enough, though this movie is definitely more in line with his earlier comedy roles than his later badass roles.
Tommy “Five-Tone” Messina: Danny Aiello plays Eddie’s buddy, contact on the outside and partner in crime. He and Eddie synch up a heist not by setting watches, but by singing show tunes. I’m not 100% sure about this, but I’m leaning more toward “amusing” than “stupid.”
Sister Anna Baragli: Andie MacDowell plays a nun working for a secret branch of the Vatican that sort of falls for Eddie, even though he’s trying to steal some of the Church’s treasures (and you know, the whole vow of celibacy thing). Things get a little weird between them.
George Kaplan: James Coburn is the CIA chief who blackmails Hawk into stealing art pieces for a device that can alchemically transmute lead to gold. That’s a sentence I never expected to write. Coburn leers like a champ in this though, so that’s good.
Snickers, Butterfinger, Almond Joy & Kit Kat: Don Harvey, Andrew Bryniarski, Lorraine Toussaint & David Caruso (yes, THAT David Caruso) are Kaplan’s candy bar code named agents. They don’t really have much in the way of personality aside from a few lines. Well, except for Caruso’s Kit Kat, who actually gets the most amusing schtick by having all of his “dialogue” written on little cards he hands to people. A fact I’m sure leaves you a little….speechless.
Darwin & Minerva Mayflower: Richard E. Grant & Sandra Bernhard are the craziest things in the movie, which is saying a lot. They are straight up card carrying villains that want to take over the world by saturating the gold market. Or something like that.
Alfred the Butler: Donald Burton is the Mayflowers’ butler who also happens to be really, really good at killing people with a blade concealed in his sleeves. He’s the badass of the film.
Cesar & Antony Mario: Frank Stallone (yeah, THAT one) & Carmine Zozorra are two brothers who run a local crime family and are the first ones to blackmail Eddie into doing their dirty work.
Michael Lehmann competently directed the film and there is no shortage of memorable scenes/visual gags. A highway chase with Willis rolling along on a stretcher, the heist synched up with “Swingin’ On A Star,” and the insane and improbably storming of “Da Vinci’s Castle” at the end of the movie. It moves quickly, but if anything, there’s TOO much stuff going on in the movie and that ends up dragging it out.
Bruce Willis & Robert Kraft on story and Steven E. deSouza & Daniel Waters on screenplay. The movie bombed because it’s a nonsensical farce that was marketed as a normal action film. Yes there’s action, but the majority of the movie is quirky dialogue and Eddie trying to outwit a bunch of psychopathic characters that would really like to see him dead. Not all of the jokes hit. Okay, a lot of jokes miss the mark, but there’s something kind of charming about the madcap cartoonishness of the plot & characters.
Original music by Michael Kamen (which is always good) and Robert Kraft. There’s Bing Crosby’s “Swinging On A Star” in a memorable sequence and a couple other songs thrown in for good measure.
It’s a weird, weird, weird, weird movie. I mean, a WEIRD movie. While I wouldn’t go out on a limb calling it a great movie or anything, I was consistently entertained by it and waiting to see what new insanity the film would throw at me. In some ways, the experience reminds me of Road House or The Last Dragon.