DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Bruce Malmuth
Sylvester Stallone, Rutger Hauer, Billy Dee Williams, Lindsay Wagner
Writing Credits:
David Shaber

Conservative street cop DaSilva reluctantly agrees to terminate an international terrorist who has demanded media attention. But DaSilva's "at-home" tactics are very much put to the challenge.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $27.99
Release Date: 10/18/2016

• “Lights, Camera, Action!” Featurette
• “We Gotta Shoot This” Featurette
• “A Sign of the Times” Featurette
• “Not the Other Girls” Featurette
• “The First Draft” Featurette
• “It Was Hell” Featurette;
• Gallery
• Trailer and TV Spots


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Nighthawks [Blu-Ray] (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 30, 2016)

After his breakout with 1976’s Rocky, Sylvester Stallone needed six years before he starred in a non-Rocky movie that achieved any form of real success. This finally came via 1982’s First Blood, though the Rambo character wouldn’t reside on the same popular level as Rocky until 1985’s smash sequel.

Stallone starred in four non-Rocky movies between Rocky and First Blood, and I always thought 1981’s police drama Nighthawks looked like the one that had the most potential. I don’t think I saw it back in its initial release period, so I greeted this Blu-ray as a good chance to find out what I missed.

Along with his partner Matthew Fox (Billy Dee Williams), NYPD Detective Deke DaSilva (Stallone) gets assigned to an anti-terrorism squad. DaSilva accepts this task against his wishes, as he prefers his life as a street cop.

Nonetheless, DaSilva throws himself into his job, and his work complicates when notorious European terrorist Heymar “Wulfgar” Reinhardt (Rutger Hauer) ends up on American shores. After Wulfgar announces his presence with a literal bang, DaSilva and Fox race to stop him before he acts again.

All of that sounds pretty exciting, but the reality seems less stimulating. While Nighthawks enjoys the bones of a solid cop thriller, the end result comes across as slow and plodding.

Some of that stems from the banal nature of the characters. Though we get a lot of exposition related to DaSilva and the others, it doesn’t really add up to much – especially because the narrative doesn’t pursue many of the threads as it goes. While we find a big build-up connected to DaSilva’s on-again/off-again relationship with Irene (Lindsay Wagner), the film drops the ball and ignores those elements along the way.

This gives Nighthawks a thinness that its action can’t overcome, mainly because the set pieces lack a lot of drama. The movie’s cop material offers a fairly generic sensibility, though it does throw out a minor twist in terms of DaSilva’s willingness to use his weapon. The film paints DaSilva as excessively cautious in this regard, not unlike Sgt. Powell in Die Hard. It’s an interesting choice but not one that pays off in an especially satisfying manner.

Our leads do fine in their roles, but I can’t say they add much to the proceedings. Actually, Stallone shows reasonable grit, whereas Hauer offers a minor disappointment. He seems like the right type for the sort of menacing psychopath presented by Wulfgar, but Hauer underplays the role too much and leaves him as a semi-dull participant.

“Semi-dull” feels like a good term to describe the movie as a whole. Nighthawks gives us a decent plot but winds up as generic 80s cop fodder.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C/ Bonus B-

Nighthawks appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though erratic, the image usually looked pretty good.

Definition was positive. Occasional soft shots materialized, and I couldn’t call the movie razor-sharp, but the majority showed good clarity. No issues with shimmering or jaggies materialized, and but light edge haloes cropped up at times.

Print flaws remained pretty minor. A handful of specks popped up, but those issues weren’t pervasive. Instead, the movie usually looked clean.

Colors appeared largely appealing. The movie tended toward a low-key palette, and the disc replicated those with good accuracy. Blacks were reasonably dark, while low-light shots demonstrated appropriate clarity. Given the movie’s age, I felt this was a “B-“ image.

Don’t expect much from the wholly ordinary DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Nighthawks. Everything about the mix felt dated and lackluster.

Speech remained intelligible, but the lines boasted little life. Dialogue was acceptably clear and lacked much edginess, but this material still seemed flat.

Music showed little range. The score seemed somewhat “rinky-dink” and didn’t present much pep. Effects also came across as mediocre at best. This became a consistently bland mix – even for its age, this audio seemed mediocre.

As we shift to extras, we find six featurettes, Lights, Camera, Action! runs 16 minutes, 10 seconds and provides an interview with producer Herb Nanas. He discusses story/character areas, the movie’s path to the screen, casting, and aspects of the shoot. Nanas offers a good mix of thoughts about the flick’s creation.

During the 24-minute, 37-second We Gotta Shoot This, we hear from director of photography James Contner. He covers problems on the set as well as his work. Contner repeats some of the comments from Nanas – mainly related to problems with the film’s original director – but he adds a lot of new insights.

Next comes A Sign of the Times, a 10-minute, 29-second conversation with actor Lindsay Wagner. She looks at her role and performance as well as scenes that got cut. Wagner’s character played a much more significant part of the original script, and it’s interesting to hear her look at what the film lost.

We hear from another castmember via Not the Other Girls. A four-minute, 24-second piece, actor Catherine Mary Stewart talks about her small role in the movie. Stewart wasn’t on the film long, but she delivers some fun thoughts – and even divulges that her first impression of Sylvester Stallone related to his height.

Nighthawks: The First Draft goes for nine minutes, 49 seconds. Story writer Paul Sylbert examines the movie’s plot, development and changes that came along the way. Sylbert presents intriguing notes about alternate paths the film might have taken.

Finally, It Was Hell lasts 10 minutes, 50 seconds and features technical adviser Randy Jurgensen. He talks about his work on the film and controversies that came along the way. Though Jurgensen contributes some decent observations, this ends up as the weakest of the featurettes.

In addition to the film’s trailer and three radio spots, we get a Still Gallery. It gives us 77 images that mix movie photos, behind the scenes shots and advertisements. It becomes a good collection.

Parts of Nighthawks threaten to turn exciting, but too much of the movie seems sluggish and disjointed. The film never manages to kick into gear and feels oddly free from passion. The Blu-ray delivers generally good picture along with mediocre audio and a nice set of bonus materials. Nighthawks offers a dated, lackluster police tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main