Just out of the joint, all ex-catburglar Hudson Hawk (Willis) wants to do is run a bar with his old mate Tony (Aiello). That plan is short-lived though, as the evil Mayflower siblings (Grant and Bernhard) have soon blackmailed the now ex-ex-thieves. It all involves stealing statues, double-crosses, and a few of Da Vinci's legendary machines.
With the legend of its going well over budget already written while on location in Budapest and Rome, Hudson Hawk reached UK screens with the added burden of having been slaughtered by US critics who likened it to famous big budget turkeys like Raise The Titanic and Ishtar. True, the film has its flaws (like an over-the-top Wicked Witch performance from Sandra Bernhard), but the positives do outweigh the negatives, with Bruce Willis at his wisecracking best in the title role.
Hudson Hawk is a master cat burglar, released after 10 years in Sing Sing, who decides to go straight and run the bar he jointly owns with his best buddy Tommy (Aiello). But, if his wish had come true there wouldn't be much of a movie, so it's not long before he's blackmailed by evil twosome Darwin and Minerva Mayflower (Grant and Bernhard) into stealing the model of a horse made by Leonardo da Vinci. What he doesn't know is that the pair don't want the horse for its historical value, but for a crystal which, when connected with two others, will make da Vinci's legendary "Gold Machine" turn lead into - hey! - gold.
After a few complicated plot twists involving James Coburn as a CIA agent who also wants the crystals and Andie MacDowell who may be working for him, the Mayflowers or someone entirely different, Hawk finds himself transported to Rome to steal another da Vinci objet d'art from The Vatican. It's all a bit like In Like Flint but with the advantage of the Willis-Aiello double-act; a nice touch is when the pair - neither of whom wear watches - time their burglaries to the length of a song, both singing Swinging On A Star to themselves (backed up by a full orchestra) while they pick locks and dodge alarms.
What director Lehmann has made is essentially a multi-million dollar cult movie with great effects, witty script and some good performances, but although some of the eccentric (and occasionally slapstick) humour may not appeal to a mass audience, it is certainly one of the more original blockbusters coming out this summer.
Really not as bad as US critics had everyone think. Ten percent of the on-set screaming matches appear to have been worth it - this is that rare beast: a big Hollywood movie with some originality. It may not always work, but points for trying, and taking a few risks.