Ones We Missed: Nighthawks (2019) - Reviewed

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’d really love to listen to sexy young socialites pontificate for 90 minutes while barely anything happens?”  Well then, look no further!  You’re in luck!  Treat yo’self and buy a copy of the newly released Blu-ray of Nighthawks.  (No guys, I’m not talking about the 1981 star-studded Stallone action flick.  While this 2019 film shares the same name, that’s pretty much where the similarities end.) 

While writer/director Grant S. Johnson would surely disagree, the plot of this movie is wafer-thin.  Stan (Chace Crawford) is an aspiring writer and former Midwesterner currently living in New York City with Chad (Kevin Zegers):  a privileged bro in the finance industry that likes to party.  Chad convinces Stan to play wingman for one of his hot nights on the town, and Stan ends up getting entangled with a mysterious group of people that take a sudden liking to him.  They eventually draw him into an interrogation, where we learn more about who they are and why they care about Stan, but it’s sadly a whole lot of filler with very little substance. 

Giving credit where credit is due, the cinematography of Nighthawks is stunning and the production design is inspired.  The nightclub where Stan ends up getting kidnapped is a spectacular display of incredibly creative costumes and lavish set pieces that would be a genuinely fun Saturday night.  The score of the film is also well-crafted and sets the mood for the film perfectly.  Clearly there is a great deal of talent in the crew of this film, but unfortunately for them, the script tarnishes their achievements and ultimately fails them.

The impressive cast of this fairly obscure film is mostly wasted, and oftentimes made to look like fools as a result of poor directorial choices.  While The Boys star Chace Crawford does a respectable job as the leading man given what he had, the stunning and talented Janet Montgomery’s performance is over-the-top as Marguerite:  a nightclub emcee and part-time sultry interrogator.  The script has a tendency to use unnatural, “heightened” dialogue, and rather than making the characters sound like cultured intellectuals, it turns them into Shakespeare community theatre actors.  It simply doesn’t succeed in what it is attempting to do with its bold dialogue choices in a way that many other films have with more seasoned writer/directors in control.

The kiss of death for Nighthawks is when the script gives Stan any sort of first-person narration during his interrogation; it is filled with backstories of characters that aren’t worth caring about and preachy statements about Millennials.  It drives any engagement in the plot to a screeching halt and takes the film in a far less interesting direction than initially expected.  Had the film decided to tell us some of this information in a more organic way, it would have worked infinitely better.  The combination of hearing so many important details told second-hand mixed with lofty statements was as exhausting as it was grating.  

Nighthawks is too pretentious for its own good.  It tries to be clever, but takes the entire ship down in the process.  The first half hour is interesting enough, but it ultimately ends up feeling like a weak, pointless story that loses itself in its own self-importance.   

-Andrea Riley