February 12, 2020

HUDSON HAWK: Vanity, Thy Name is Bruce

Starring Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello, Andie MacDowell, James Coburn, Richard E. Grant, Sandra Bernhard, Donald Burton, David Caruso. Directed by Michael Lehmann. (100 min).

Review by Tiger the Terrible😾

One of the 90’s more notorious flops, Hudson Hawk was essentially a Bruce Willis vanity project, and an expensive one at that. After two Die Hard films, he had a lot of clout and took full advantage of it, co-writing the so-called story and instilling it with an fun-loving, irreverent tone that reflected his off-screen persona.

Though not the ego-driven dumpster fire it’s reputed to be, Hudson Hawk was massively disappointing at the time and revisiting it years later didn’t change my opinion. It remains a supremely schizophrenic film, striving to be a crime caper, whimsical comedy, slapstick farce, action film and sometimes even a musical. All those elements are liberally tossed into a pot yet never quite congeal, despite vigorous stirring. Still, Willis would later whore-out his name in far worse movies, wouldn’t he? In this one, at least he still seems to care.

Bruce meets his critics.
Sincerity is the one thing Hudson Hawk has going for it...and that's fine up to a point. Willis and the cast truly appear to be having a lot of fun, which is occasionally infectious. It’s hard not to watch the congenial interaction between Eddie Hawkins (Willis) and “Five-Tone” Mussina (Danny Aiello) without a smile on your face. On the other hand, the film too often descends into juvenile slapstick that seems to belong in another movie, as do some embarrassingly over-the-top performances...such as a truly obnoxious Sandra Bernhard (who was never very funny to begin with). And when the actual plot does rear its ugly head now and again, it feels more like an intrusion.

Three decades later, Hudson Hawk is no Last Action Hero (a similarly pricey disaster that enjoyed a bit of reassessment over the years). It’s a film with a few fine moments, but not enough to make one appreciate it any more than they did back then. Anybody who loved or hated it in 1991 will likely love or hate it now. If you’re among the former, you probably already have this on DVD, which came with bonus features that aren’t included on the Blu-ray. So the only reason to double-dip would be for the retro slipcase. 


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