The story begins with Eddie “Hudson Hawk” Hawkins (Willis), a master burglar and safe-cracker, attempting to celebrate his first day of parole from prison with a cappuccino. Before he can get it, he is blackmailed by various entities, including his own parole officer, a minor Newark Mafia family (headed by Stallone), and the CIA (Coburn along with Caruso and Toussaint and others), into doing several dangerous art heists. Throughout the movie, Hudson attempts to enjoy a cappuccino, but is foiled each time.
The holders of the various players’ puppet strings turn out to be a “psychotic American corporation”, Mayflower Industries, run by a husband-and-wife team (Grant and Bernhard) and their blade-slinging butler. The company, headquartered in the Esposizione Universale Roma (E.U.R.) in Rome, is seeking to take over the world by reconstructing “La Macchina dell’Oro“, a machine purportedly invented by Leonardo da Vinci which converts lead into gold. A special assembly of crystals needed for the machine to function are hidden in a variety of Leonardo’s artworks: the Sforza, the Da Vinci Codex, and a scale model of DaVinci’s helicopter design.
Sister Anna Baragli (MacDowell), initially his tail and later his refuge (and subsequent love interest), is an operative for a secretive Vatican counter-espionage agency, called the Vatican Organization by George Kaplan, which makes an unexplained arrangement with the CIA to assist in the Roman portion of Hudson’s mission, though apparently intending all along to use the connection to foil the robbery at St. Peter’s Basilica.
The movie culminates in a showdown at Leonardo’s castle, between the remaining CIA agents, the Mayflowers, and the team of Hudson, Five-Tone, and Baragli, to stop the Mayflowers from successfully operating the machine.
I find it ironic that Bruce Willis chose to do this film, especially since it is such a blatant attempt at ripping off Die Hard. I guess it just goes to show you that he can make fun of himself.
I’ve seen Bruce in some roles where he just looks totally miserable, but here he looks like he really enjoyed himself. Something that I can’t recall him doing since the days of Moonlighting.
Danny Aiello is a very talented actor, but he seems to always be in the role of the sidekick or some type of mob boss. I can’t fault him for it, though. You gotta do what works for you and roles such as this one really work for him.
Andie McDowell really lit up the screen, especially in the later parts of the film, with her beauty. She gives a very solid performance as the undercover nun.
The rest of the cast isn’t too shabby either, containing names such as Sandra Bernhard, David Caruso, and James Coburn, just to name a few.
The all-knowing critics (note the sarcasm) panned this film, but I didn’t find it as bad they did. As a matter of fact I enjoyed the humor in it. As I often say in these reviews, everything does not need to be dark and serious, so a film like this that is light hearted and doesn’t take itself too serious is more than welcome.
There were parts that I didn’t care for, though. For instance, the whole flashback sense with Da Vinci made sense in terms of introducing what the object being stolen was, but weren’t really necessary. Neither was the book at the beginning and end of the film.
The action was allright, but I think there could have been more. The climactic scene at the castle really blew me away, though.
This is a really enjoyable film, no matter what some people may think. There are times when one just wants to watch something fun and that’s what the purpose of this movie is. So, if you’re looking for something along those lines, this is for you. If you’re looking for something darker, I suggest you stick to the Die Hard franchise.
3 out of 5 stars