In honor of Friday's release of The Expendables, we're taking a week-long look at the action films of Sir Sylvester Stallone -- which is to say we're skipping his comedies. Out of respect.
Setting: 1980 New York City, sort of like Walter Hill's The Warriors, only in daylight.
Our hero: Detective Sergeant Deke DaSilva, who has a real problem with pulling out his gun despite having already killed (literally) 52 people, and his completely pointless partner Billy Dee Williams.
Our villain/s: Rutger Hauer. Can you believe someone cast Rutger Hauer as a villain? Sarcastic wit aside, Hauer is wonderfully evil as international terrorist Wolfgar (often spoken with exclamation points), and it's interesting to note that this is the Dutch character actor's first American film. So there, I just noted it. Also there's an evil henchwoman played by the late Persis Khambatta, of Megaforce and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The stakes: Well, considering that Wulfgar(!!!) blows up a London department store before scurrying his way to New York City, I'd say the stakes are high enough for Detective Sergeant Deke DaSilva, his completely pointless partner, and some rather outlandish facial hair. (see above)
How long until our first confrontation? Stallone and his finely groomed whiskers chase down a street punk dressed in drag. I'll let you guess which one is dressed like a woman.
Line of dialogue that nails it: "DaSilva! Come off this cop-on-the-beat mentality! Your wife left you for it! Wasn't that enough?!?"
Coolest display of might: Stallone thwarts evil by dressing as a woman ... more than once.
Oddest lack of consistency: Why Billy Dee Williams is even in this movie. Early on the character looks like he has some interesting rage issues or something, but halfway through the movie he gets injured and then just kinda ... nothing. I expect better from a renowned bespin distributor.
Moral of the story: The meanest terrorists in the world are no match for a moody cop in a wig.
Stallone Action Scale: 7 -- There are several cool sequences (one a long foot chase, another a cable-car nail-biter), but just when the action looks like it's about to cook -- the movie ends.
Weird trivia: Early in the life of the Nighthawks screenplay it was meant to be a script for, get this, French Connection 3. (source: IMDb, of course)