At a time when the stars of Bruce Willis and Richard E. Grant were rising and rising, an unstoppable collaboration between the two should have been, well, unstoppable. Hudson Hawk brings those grand and polished star powers together in a feature that was post-Die Hard 2 and saw Grant preparing to work with the great Robert Altman. It seemed like a concept too hot to handle. What a lucky experience it would be to work on Hudson Hawk, and what a nightmare it turned into. Michael Lehmann overextends his reach as an artist and director, as does everyone involved in this ensemble car crash, struggling from the tonal whiplash of genre-bending ideas and stars not given a script worth their time.
Thirty years before Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid stormed cinemas, the view of the Old West was one of rewarding heroes in difficult circumstances. Henry Fonda and John Wayne had done much to present the genre as a place for respectable big shots to throw their weight around, get the girl, shoot the bad guy and be home in time for an inevitably large glass of whisky. But that was thirty years ago. Those last flickers of respectable, full-bodied heroes swaggering through dusty streets were lost, and in its place, the anti-hero antithesis of Clint Eastwood and the twirling villainy of Lee Van Cleef had produced stronger results. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid performs the latter of the two mindsets, its anti-heroes are likeable, but not all that redeemable.
A famed rip on the brilliance of Seven Samurai, the pangs of the western genre found the allure of hired heroes helping villages fend off against a mighty threat too much to push back against. Thus, The Magnificent Seven was born. It is more than just a preference of samurai or western that will guide audiences to the former or latter. Sad it may be to see that there are different marks of quality and incompetency within either piece, the general, core concept is there and displayed with relative merit. Director John Sturges is no stranger to the western genre, but the isolationism and behind-the-times community found in Bad Day at Black Rock is very different to the heroes and villains found in the ensemble that put together The Magnificent Seven.
War films are often flashes of Allied history. After all, there’s no point in telling a story from the losing side. Saving Private Ryan would have been a flash in the pan had they not accomplished the goal expressed in the title of the film. It is, of course, interesting and engaging to see the other sides of the story. The human suffering and its equivalents within other conflicts, across the oceans and seas. Director Sam Peckinpah’s Cross of Iron looks to do just that, following a squadron of defeatist German troopers looking to survive the pushback from Russian forces in 1943.