tek's rating:

Hudson Hawk (R)
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Caution: spoilers.

This movie bombed at the box office, and was soundly panned by critics, but personally I've always loved it. It's kind of hard to know where to put my review... it definitely has plenty of action, but it's mostly an absurdist comedy (which is frequently blamed for its failure, having been originally mis-marketed as an action movie). I considered putting it under "weird," but what the heck... I'll call it quirky. And I definitely find it hilarious.

Anyway, it starts out in 1481, with Leonardo da Vinci creating a machine that's meant to turn lead into bronze, but unexpectedly turns it into gold, instead. But the bulk of the movie is set 500 years later... or actually 510 years later. The narrator said "exactly 500 years later," but I'm not sure... the movie came out in 1991, which I believe is when it's set. Maybe the mention of 1481 at the start of the movie was actually ten years before the scenes we see... I suppose it could've taken a while to create the machine. Whatever, it's not important. Um... anyway, in let's say 1991, a cat burglar named Eddie (Bruce Willis) gets out of prison. The internet will tell you his full name was Eddie Hawkins, but I never heard anyone use any surname for him in the movie, nor do the credits list him by anything but his nickname, Hudson Hawk. (Technically, his nickname is the Hudson Hawk, but the "the" is hardly ever used, so his nickname just comes off sounding like a name.) Again, not important. His parole officer wanted him to rob an auction house, but Hudson didn't want to. However, there are a couple of mob guys, the Mario brothers, who threaten him if he doesn't do it. So he and his old partner, Tommy Five-Tone (Danny Aiello), pull the heist together. And btw, they always sing show tunes like "Would You Like to Swing on a Star" to synchronize their respective parts in whatever job they're pulling at any time. Which seems unnecessary, but it's still fun.

Anyway, the job doesn't exactly go off without a hitch, but... at least it's a success. Hudson delivers the object he's stolen to his parole officer and the Marios, and then a British butler named Alfred shows up to collect it, since his employers were behind the job. And those employers were a crazy American couple named Darwin and Minerva Mayflower (Sandra Bernhard), who we eventually learn have a plot to destroy the world's economy by creating tons of gold, and rendering its value meaningless. The thing is, da Vinci apparently hid three pieces of this crystal thing that was an essential component of his machine, in three different works of his, the first one being a horse statue, which Hudson stole. Now the Mayflowers want him to steal the second piece, which is hidden inside a book in the Vatican. Meanwhile, there's this woman named Anna (Andie MacDowell), who performs various functions for the Vatican, some of them fairly ordinary jobs, but also counter-espionage. Hudson had first met her at the auction house (when a fake statue was being auctioned off, after the real one had been stolen). And now he meets her again in Rome, though at first he has no idea how deeply involved she is in everything that's going on. There's something else he doesn't know about her, but I won't reveal it (though the movie reveals it before Hudson finds out).

Anyway, there's a CIA guy named George (James Coburn), who heads up a team of agents who are code-named after various candy bars. And they're all working with the Mayflowers, and forcing Hudson to continue stealing stuff. Meanwhile, they CIA are also working with Anna, supposedly as part of a sting operation to take down the Mayflowers. But... she figures out they've been lying to her, and that Hudson is caught up in all this against his will. He does manage to steal the second item, but the third... well, the villains have to go with Plan B, for that one. And then... well, the good guys have to try to stop all the bad guys. I don't want to divulge any more of the plot than that.

So anyway, the movie is full of double-crosses, running gags, wonderfully awful one-liners, and pure redonkulousness. I can kind of understand how some people might not like it, but those people would be wrong. I mean it's all totally over-the-top, and that's a big part of what makes it hilarious and awesome. There's also a good bit of swearing and plenty of violence, but those things are kind of funny, too. And I just love all the characters. Hudson, Tommy, Anna, the Mayflowers, George, the candy bars, Alfred, etc... they're all just redonkulously funny. And now I'm starting to repeat myself, so I should shut up. Except to say, seriously, the friendship between Hudson and Tommy is pretty great. Without actually seeing their history together, you really believe they're old friends. Okay, now I'm shutting up.

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