Hudson Hawk is a fairly frustrating movie. It doesn’t surprise me at all that it’s commonly listed as one of the worst movies ever made.
However, I tend to think that if you give a person (or persons) a fair warning about what type of movie Hudson Hawk is, then it can counteract most of the negative impressions logged against it. And with a proper warning the consumption of the movie becomes a much more enjoyable affair.
To explain: Hudson Hawk is a silly, silly, silly movie. It’s absurd, over the top, wacky, and downright strange. It’s supposed to be like that. This is not a movie that tried to be serious but catastrophically failed. This is a movie that is at it’s core is a farce.
This is what I’m talking about. The trailer completely misrepresents the film’s tone.
So far all I have maintained all the movies cataloged in Second Chance Cinema have been good but a negative campaign of criticism unfairly soiled its reputation. Hudson Hawk isn’t a good movie. It’s a movie that has a lot of great ideas. However, none of these ideas ever gel together into one cohesive whole.
This is a movie that has the following: singing old standards to time a heist, CIA agents named after candy bars, a butler with a retractable sword, Bruce Willis playing Bruce Willis playing a cat burglar, over the top dialogue that satirizes the era’s dependance on sarcasm, a secret nun task force, and a gun that shoots timed sticky bombs (eat your heart out, The Dark Knight).
In the end what really soils the movie is the over arching plot of Leonardo’s alchemy machine. The Da Vinci heist is too grand of a plot point to incorporate into this movie about a typical New Yorker who happens to be the greatest thief alive. It pushes the plot into the realm of a big budget, summer blockbuster, action adventure movie. The best part of Hudson Hawk is the first act, before Willis ends up in Rome. That first act takes place in a universe where Willis can be forced by his parole officer to commit a crime. It’s a universe where sexy women mock Willis for his near death experiences on a highway. The confines of the city allow for the absurdest plot to play out.
Another damaging aspect to the plot is the two villains Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard. In a movie that is already over the top they seem to be acting in the exosphere. Their characters are annoying without the charm (unlike Willis and Danny Aiello). And unfortunately, once Willis arrives in Rome, they lead the plot by the nose.
Hudson Hawk is not for everyone. If you do not appreciate extreme farce and absurdism, you will not like the movie. If, however, this sounds like a movie you could get behind, then by all means check it out. Do not let the negative hype dissuade you from watching a movie that is well on its way to becoming a certified cult classic.