Hudson Hawk is one of those films that tries to be everything and have everything and fails at every level. It is overwritten, overstuffed, over-silly and incomprehensible. The movie has a big cast which includes Bruce Willis in the title role, Danny Aiello, James Coburn, Andie MacDowell and the despicable and exceptionally unfunny Sandra Bernhard. It is all just too much as it is all over the place, with far too many characters and subplots.
The film primarily follows a thief nicknamed Hudson Hawk who, after being paroled is blackmailed by every minor character in the film to steal a priceless Da Vinci work, while all the lead wants to do is enjoy a Cappucino. The film uses a MacGuffin in the form of a machine designed by the Renaissance visionary that is supposed to be able to turn just about any metal into gold to push the plot into resolution but there is far too much going on to provide a cohesive series of events.
Hudson Hawk leans far too hard on its stars. It lacks any real substance or point and instead focuses on these stars’ slapstick antics in hopes that the audience will forget about the film’s lack of story. I always got the impression, given the one liners, third-wall breaking moments, cartoon sound effects, and strange song-and-dance numbers that director Michael Lehmann (Heathers) was trying to make an homage to classic slapstick films like those of the Marx Brothers. The problem is, Hudson Hawk lacks laughs and warmth, something the famous four comedians had in droves.
Hudson Hawk is an example of a film that is all budget and no heart. These are often the worst movies too, as they tend to be big and explosive but leave the audience feeling empty, generating no emotional response at all. Hudson Hawk, Waterworld and the Transformers movies all fall into this category, despite the fact that the latter of the three does generate income, they rarely leave any lasting impression in the art of film.
Hudson Hawk is a movie designed solely to generate revenue (Which is interesting considering this is the film that almost eliminated Tristar Pictures before Columbia and Sony Pictures Studios saved them from complete collapse. A result of this flop’s devastating effects). This is something prevalent from start to finish. Granted, all movies are “designed to generate revenue” but there are films that were made by writers, actors and directors who want to truly entertain and inspire. I get this impression from the films of Pixar, as well as works from names such as Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee. Whether a film is intended to inspire, provoke, make one laugh or make one shiver there should always be an emotion generated by your film. If it is just stuff, as is the case with Hudson Hawk, it will leave a chasm filled with nothingness behind in the audience, and they will not care or remember the movie. Thus, the filmmakers have failed at their jobs to create a work of artistic entertainment. Filmmaking is an art, and anyone that treats it as anything other than that should be truly ashamed of themselves.