|A young (uncredited) Rutger Hauer and a bearded Sly on the poster. What more could you want?|
When I was 17 years old, my girlfriend and I went to the movies and saw an unheralded cop drama called "Nighthawks." Like all boys of my generation, Sly Stallone, as much as I would goof on him, was an undeniable hero, due to the enormous impact of "Rocky" in 1976 and "Rocky II" a couple of years later. We allowed Sly his flops ("F.I.S.T." and "Paradise Alley") after the first Rocky, and this was bound to be his post "Rocky II" schlock.
But I'll be damned if Maria and I didn't absolutely love this movie. What wasn't to love, after all? You had young, sexy Rutger Hauer playing international terrorist and man-about-town Heymar "Wulfgar" Reinhardt, and young, sexy Persis Khambatta as his evil minion, Shaka Holland. You had a bearded Stallone as misunderstood Vietnam vet with "57 registered kills"-turned-misunderstood New York undercover cop specializing in "decoy" detail, Deke DaSilva. You had the Bionic Fucking Woman, Lindsay Wagner, for God's sake! And, oh yeah, Billy. Dee. Williams.
We ate it up. We wrote each other love notes in high school and signed them "Love, Wulfgar," and "Love, Shaka." This was our flick.
Normally, my 5 a.m. routine is to wake up, let the dogs out, put some coffee on the stove and turn on the local news, toggling back and forth to Sportscenter. As it would happen, I woke up this morning and turned on the set, and there, of all things, was "Nighthawks." The wife and kids were sleeping in late, and getting them up wasn't a priority. So, I watched.
Rutger Hauer is still riveting. I realize, now, that he is really what gives "Nighthawks" the energy it has. The scenes without Hauer feel like an airless room. The script is "flawed," to put it kindly. The great international terrorist makes mistake after mistake, and is far too easily located by Deke. And the image of Stallone taking off the Lindsay Wagner wig at the end, is just too fucking funny.
Back then it was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
I'm not calling for a sequel, or wanting to start a fan club. The world has changed since 1981. Terrorism is not something to be romanticized as it sort of was back then. Images of buildings exploding on Wall Street and Picadilly bring very real reminders of loss and pain. At the end of the day, as they say, "Nighthawks" is, quite simply, a good old-fashioned "B Movie." But it was a lot of fun watching it this morning, thinking back on a youth that was better than I deserved, and giggling ever so slightly at the guilty pleasure of a crappy movie I once loved.