Tag Archives: Rutger Hauer

Nighthawks (1981)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Street cop versus terrorist.

Deke DaSilva (Sylvester Stallone) and Matthew Fox (Billy Dee Williams) work as New York Street cops only to be suddenly pulled off of their beat and put into an elite anti-terrorism division. At first DaSilva resists the tactics taught during the training, which puts him at odds with the instructor (Nigel Davenport). However, once he gets past his initial reluctance he begins to use the methods that were taught to him by getting inside the mind of the international terrorist (Rutger Hauer) that they are after, which eventually helps him beat the man at his own game.

The film’s biggest achievement is that it was shot on-location in three major cities across two continents. Normally it’s nice when a film can just get out of a studio backlot and into a vibrant setting, but this film manages to get in three simultaneously and creates an almost head-spinning, globe-trotting visual show, which helps heighten the international intrigue. My favorite spot was where DaSilva and Fox go into the ghetto to do a drug bust. Normally film crews avoid the bad areas and try to compensate by dressing up a soundstage to look like one, but it always fails while this scene comes off as the real deal with the garbage strewn decrepit buildings being more prominent than the action.

The story succeeds to a degree as it nicely details the psychological aspect of police work as well as showing the many dead-ends investigators must go through before they are finally able to catch a break, but then the gritty reality unfortunately gets erased.

The main issue occurs when Stallone thinks he has spotted Hauer at a nightclub and wants to get nearer to him to get a ‘closer look’ only to proceed to just stand and stare at him in the most obvious way imaginable until it becomes achingly clear to Hauer that the guy is a cop, which causes him to panic and taking out a gun and running while killing a club patron in the process. It made me wonder if the Stallone character was a seasoned cop at all because why bother being undercover if you’re going to just stupidly give your identity away at the most inopportune moment?

Later Stallone gets blamed by Dee Williams for not shooting Hauer when he ‘had the chance’, but the truth is that Hauer had draped himself with a woman hostage and giving Stallone no clear view of him. Aren’t police trained not to shoot unless they do have a clear view? If anything Stallone’s character should’ve been commended for showing restraint. Being goaded into taking a risky shot would not have been ‘macho’ or ‘brave’ but seriously reckless and in no way was a sign of weakness despite the film portraying it like it was.

The film also fails to make much use of the buddy formula and in fact Dee Williams gets boxed out and becomes almost transparent. Stallone is excellent and Hauer is the epitome of a creepy villain, but the film could’ve been stronger had it not devolved into the formulaic tormented-cop-struggling-with-his-inner-demons thing and instead kept the two leads on equal footing as there are a few moments at the beginning where they share some engaging banter.

Lindsay Wagner is equally wasted with only two scenes and less than 10 minutes of total screen time. Davenport though is strong as the aging British instructor and quite engaging in his own right while Persis Khambatta, best known for playing the bald women in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, is effective as Hauer’s partner in crime.

The scene where a group of people are held hostage inside a cable car is intense and well shot. There is also an exciting foot chase inside the New York subway, which has traces to the one done in The French Connection, but the story itself doesn’t amount to much and seems more clichéd than original.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: April 10, 1981

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Bruce Malmuth

Studio: Universal

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video, YouTube

The Hitcher (1986)

hitcher

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Chased by homicidal hitchhiker.

Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell) who is driving from Chicago to California finds himself falling asleep at the wheel as he travels late at night down a lonely desert highway. To keep himself awake he decides to pick-up a hitchhiker named John Ryder (Rutger Hauer) who immediately begins to behave strangely. Jim manages physically kick John out of the car when his life gets threatened, but then notices that he is continually coming upon him as his drive progresses. Soon the police are after him thinking that he is the one committing the murders that are really being done by John.

This film manages to be a nice blend between Spielberg’s TV-movie Duel and the classic episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ in which Inger Stevens constantly sees the same hitchhiker as she drives her way through the desert. There are some really good suspenseful moments and a great performance by Hauer that almost makes up for its many transgressions, which unfortunately become more and more numerous.

Now, I did like this movie and tried to overlook a few of the logic loopholes, but eventually they become just too overblown. The biggest one is that John somehow manages to steel Jim’s wallet while also planting a knife on him that has blood from the victims that he has killed, but the only time they are together is when they are traveling in the car and I think Jim would’ve noticed John fishing through his pockets if that were the case. There’s also a lot of timing issues. For instance passengers stop and get off a bus to go inside a roadside café presumably for lunch, but then go right back into the bus just a couple of minutes later, which isn’t enough time for them to eat, go to the bathroom, or even stretch their legs. Another scene has Jim’s girlfriend Nash (Jennifer Jason Leigh) getting kidnapped from her hotel room by John who somehow is able to enter the room without explanation and then takes her out to the parking lot and ties her up between two trucks before the police get called in and try to intervene, but this all occurs in seemingly only a couple of minutes as Jim is in the bathroom when he hears Nash being taken out and he quickly runs out into the parking lot only to see Nash already tied up and the police there.

There is also the issue of how is John able to escape out of a police van after he is caught and handcuffed, which the movie doesn’t even bother to explain or show. Another question some viewers have brought up is why is Jim driving through Texas anyways, which is where this all occurs, since it seems too far to the south from where he needs to go. Some have speculated that maybe he was going to the southern portion of California and therefore would need to pass through the Panhandle of Texas to get there, which is plausible, but the landscape is all wrong. I live in Texas and know that the panhandle region, which I’ve been to, is flat and green and has farmland while the place Jim goes through is barren, sandy and very much a desert.

The film wasn’t even shot in Texas, but instead done in the Mojave Desert in California, which made me wonder why the setting couldn’t have been there since that was supposed to be Jim’s ultimate destination anyways. Then I realized that the police are portrayed as being quite hick and redneck and since Texas unfairly still has that stereotype I’m sure that was the reason for why it was chosen.

The script could’ve certainly been better thought out, which wouldn’t have required the viewer to take such massive leaps in logic in order to enjoy it, but overall I still liked it. I think this was mainly because of Hauer who is terrifically creepy as well as for an extremely exciting car chase that features incredible stunt work and without relying on any of computerized crap either.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: February 21, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated R

Director: Robert Harmon

Studio: TriStar Pictures

Available: DVD

 

Ladyhawke (1985)

ladyhawke 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Trying to reunite lovers.

Philipe (Matthew Broderick) is a thief who manages to escape the confines of the dungeon in Aquila by squeezing through a prison drain and then swimming through the underground sewer. When he finally reaches safety he meets up with Navarre (Rutger Hauer) who is also on the run and straddle with a very strange curse placed on him by the Bishop (John Wood). It seems that the Bishop had a thing for Lady Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer) and became enraged when he found that she loved Navarre and not him. As part of his revenge he made it so Navarre and Isabeau will never be able to meet in human form by having Navarre turn into a werewolf by night while Isabeau becomes a hawk by day. Now Navarre wants to use the reluctant Philipe’s knowledge of the city to help him find the Bishop and kill him, which he hopes will then end the curse.

I have to admit that medieval fantasy is my least favorite of all movie genres. The archaic living conditions always comes off as gloomy and depressing and the fact that the action is limited to only swordplay seems to make it less exciting. However, the film has some impressive cinematography and Broderick’s humorous character kept me engaged most of the way.

I also liked the pounding Philharmonic musical score. I realize that it doesn’t fit the sound of the 13th century setting and some fans of the film hate it for just that reason, but it still gives the film distinctiveness and helps boost the energy. I was actually disappointed it wasn’t used more as it seems to taper off too much after booming out strong at the beginning.

I am so used to seeing Hauer playing dark characters that I was initially thrown having him play a good guy, but pleasantly surprised at how well he did it. Leo McKern is a standout as the elderly Imperius.  His castle residence is marvelously captured and I loved all the booby traps he has in store for the invading soldiers. Pfeiffer on the other hand is a bit miscast mainly due to her model-like face that seems too glossy for the time period.

The exciting jousting sequence that takes place during the finale between Hauer and actor Alfred Molina’s character is outstanding, but it takes too damn long to get there. The simple plot could have been wrapped up in a much briefer runtime. The second hour is filled with a lot side dialogue and scenarios that add nothing to the story or characters and should’ve been cut completely. The romance angle is also handled too much from the perspective of a 14-year-old schoolgirl and the scene where the lovers reunite could be deemed as corny by some.

There is also the issue of Navarre looking directly at an eclipse that conveniently occurs through a broken stain glass window in a church. Normally a person would have to shield their eyes with their hand, squint or at the very least turn away from it after only a few seconds. Yet this character stares at it for an extended period without even blinking, which at the very least would’ve burned dark spots into his field of vision and yet strangely that doesn’t occur.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: April 12, 1985

Runtime: 2Hours 4Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Richard Donner

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

 

Blade Runner (1982)

blade runner 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Where are the replicants?

The movie, based on the novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Phillip K. Dick, takes place in the year 2019 where human clones called replicants have been created and used basically as slave labor in off-world colonies. However, they create a mutiny and become a danger to the human race on Earth and are therefore banned from returning. If they do come back they are hunted down and killed by a special police force called Blade Runners. Rick Dekard (Harrison Ford) is one of those blade runners and is considered to be the best, but is burned out with his job. He is coaxed out of retirement when an especially dangerous group of replicants led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) escape and return to the planet.

On a visual level this film scores a bulls-eye and is nothing short of awe inspiring. You truly get the feeling that you have traveled to a whole different world. It’s a very complete and intricate vision that can make this movie enjoyable to watch in that area alone. Having it perpetually raining and gloomy helps add to the decayed nihilistic tone of the story. Although it takes place in futuristic city of Los Angeles one might actually think it is China due to the large number of Chinese ads on billboards and oriental people seen in the backdrop of scenes. I can only presume this was a Chinese neighborhood of the city, but I wasn’t sure why the action was placed there. Personally, I have no problem with it and it does help add an extra flavor to the proceedings, but I still felt it needed more of an explanation, which never came. Quite possibly this is something that is explained in the Dick novel, but for those that haven’t read it and are coming in brand new to it all it could prove just a bit confusing.

I really liked the story idea, but felt, like a lot of the critics did at the time, that the pacing is off. There is so much emphasis put on the style and atmosphere that at times it seems like the plot is almost forgotten. The scenes are stretched out much longer than in a typical action/sci-fi picture, which in some ways makes it interesting, but in another way it seems unnecessary. There really isn’t any action or excitement until almost an hour in and even then it goes by too quickly. Too much emphasis is put into Deckard’s relationship with Rachael (Sean Young) a replicant that doesn’t even know that she is one. There is no real chemistry between the two actors and the whole romantic angle came off as forced and contrived and bogged the whole thing down.

Ford is at his crusty best. Few people can play a sarcastic character like he does and still come off as engaging. I liked the ‘been there, done that’ attitude of the character, but found that his ability to handle the replicants seemed woefully lacking. They seem to be constantly taking him by surprise and then throwing him around like he is a ragdoll. Without the defense of his gun, which in one scene gets slapped out of his hand like it is nothing, he seems utterly even hopelessly ineffectual. There are several moments when he is about to be killed by them and is only saved when someone else comes to his rescue. You would think that if someone is as savvy and cocky as this character is portrayed and considered ‘the best’ by his superiors that he would have acquired some sort of fighting technique or better skill at handling them. Instead he looks like he is completely in over his head.

Having a typical gun as the only weapon seems pretty conventional and unimaginative. I would have thought in the future the technology in the weaponry department would be more advanced. A little more James Bond-like gadgetry would have made the fight scenes more interesting. Also, the technique at telling whether the person is human or a replicant is awfully archaic.

Hauer as the leader of the bad guys was a terrific casting choice. I can’t think of any other actor living or dead who was better suited for the part, but unfortunately he gets terribly underused in the process. He is seen only sporadically in the first hour and is not as menacing and terrifying as he should be. The final showdown between the two is good and makes great use of the moody lighting and Victorian-like background set, but ends up fizzling at the end.

I came away with mixed feelings on this one. On a technical end it verges on being brilliant, but in other areas it is lacking. The tension needed to be played up more, the confrontations needed more sizzle, and the hero needed to be more in control of the situation.

However, I really liked Daryl Hannah who has just the right blend of sexiness and evilness in her part. Brion James is good simply because he appears very benign, but then surprises the viewer with an unexpected and unannounced viciousness. You also got to love Joe Turkel and his very funky glasses.

blade runner 1

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: June 25, 1982

Runtime: 1Hour 57Minutes

Rated R

Director: Ridley Scott

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD, HDDVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video