Total Recall

Total Recall: Rutger Hauer's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Rite star.

by | January 28, 2011 | Comments

Rutger Hauer

During the 1980s, the action thriller genre soared to absurd new heights, only to retreat into direct-to-video cheese — and Rutger Hauer‘s career went right along with it, from early cult favorites (Nighthawks, Blade Runner) to, well, less memorable fare (pretty much anything Hauer filmed in the 1990s). But even if the scripts got worse, Hauer’s steely glare and commanding screen presence only improved with age — and he’s put them to use in a recent string of successful films, including Sin City and Batman Begins. With Rutger appearing alongside Anthony Hopkins in this weekend’s The Rite, we knew now was the perfect time to take a look back at his brightest critical highlights. It’s time for Total Recall!


10. Ladyhawke

A marked departure for its young star Matthew Broderick, who was mostly known for playing the wisecracking protagonist of WarGames, Richard Donner’s Ladyhawke blended lush medieval fantasy with 1980s synth pop to tell the tale of an exiled knight (Hauer) and his betrothed (Michelle Pfeiffer), separated by the curse of a jealous bishop (John Wood) — and the escaped thief (Broderick) who becomes a crucial ally in their quest to reunite. Audiences didn’t quite know what to make of Laydhawke during its theatrical run, and mostly stayed away, but most critics enjoyed it — including Jeffrey Overstreet of Looking Closer, who enthused, “We need more fantasy like this: high adventure, brilliant swordplay, convincing magic, three-dimensional characters, arresting cinematography, and best of all, a good story.”


9. Simon Magus

A period drama with a mystical bent, Simon Magus takes place in a 19th-century European village, where a poor young man (Stuart Townsend) and a wealthy, unscrupulous businessman (Sean McGinley) vie for the right to build a train station that will attract travelers on the nearby railroad, whose path has dried up tourism and brought economic hard times. As the eccentric landowner who cares more about poetry than material wealth, Hauer had a chance to prove he was capable of playing characters who aren’t warriors or villains — and to take part in a film that Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times praised by writing, “Poetic and ambiguous, it manages to be magical in both the beautiful and terrifying senses of the word.”


8. Nighthawks

Hauer’s first major role in an American production came courtesy of Nighthawks, a Sylvester Stallone/Billy Dee Williams buddy cop thriller whose script had been refashioned from the abandoned French Connection III. Despite those rather uninspired beginnings — and its disappointing performance at the box office — Nighthawks is one of the more fondly remembered entries in the genre, largely thanks to Hauer’s performance as the publicity-hungry terrorist known as Wulfgar. “All of it is standard stuff,” admitted Janet Maslin of the New York Times, while hastening to add, “and yet Nighthawks has been assembled with enough pep to make it feel fresh.”


7. Spetters

One of Hauer’s many collaborations with director Paul Verhoeven, 1980’s Spetters was the Dutch hit that really launched their careers in America. Nominally about the world of professional motocross racing, Spetters courted controversy with sexually graphic scenes, heaps of violence, and a script heavy with offensive portrayals of… well, pretty much everybody, including Christians and gays. Plenty of filmgoers failed to find much of value here, but as Verhoeven proved so often in his early career, there’s a difference between shocking simply to shock and doing it to prove a point, and Spetters leans far more heavily on the latter tactic. As Ken Hanke of the Asheville Mountain Xpress sighed wistfully after a later viewing, “Remember when Paul Verhoeven made good movies?”


6. Sin City

Part of a busy 2005 for Hauer that included roles in major films (including Batman Begins), a direct-to-video sequel (Dracula III), and a made-for-TV disaster epic (The Poseidon Adventure), Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s Sin City used modern filmmaking techniques to bring the distinctive visual thrills of Miller’s graphic novel series directly to the screen. A member of an impressive ensemble cast that included Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Elijah Wood, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, and Benicio del Toro, Hauer appeared as the villainous Cardinal Patrick Henry Roark, whose murderous machinations set in motion a gory path of revenge for Marv (Rourke). Definitely not for the squeamish, Sin City earned the admiration of critics like Bruce Newman of the San Jose Mercury News, who called it “The most gorgeous digital movie ever made” and “a stunning leap forward in both the technology of digital cinema and the art of filmmaking.”


5. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

A film adaptation of the “unauthorized autobiography” of famed television producer (and winsomely smarmy game show host) Chuck Barris had been in and out of development since the 1980s, but it took George Clooney to finally make it happen. Clooney marked his directorial debut with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, starring Sam Rockwell as Barris and following his quite possibly fictional account of his years as a TV personality/CIA assassin. Hauer pops up here as a spy who aids Barris during a German mission, part of an eyebrow-raising supporting cast that also included Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, and Clooney himself. Offering praise for Clooney, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, and the cast, the New York Observer’s Andrew Sarris wrote, “Mr. Clooney, Mr. Kaufman and all their collaborators are entitled to take a deep bow for fashioning an engrossing entertainment out of an almost sure-fire prescription for a critical and commercial disaster.”


4. Flesh & Blood

Hauer got his start on the late 1960s Dutch TV series Floris, along with the show’s creator, Paul Verhoeven — and once they’d both made a name for themselves in Hollywood, they reunited for this big-screen extension of the show’s 16th-century European mythology. Hauer stars as Martin, a spurned mercenary who embarks on a muddy quest for revenge against the commander who betrayed him. Also starring a young Jennifer Jason Leigh, Flesh & Blood wasn’t a huge box office hit, but it offered an unusually realistic take on the era (TV Guide wrote that “a more appalling view of the turmoil and misery of the late Middle Ages may never be seen”) and helped set up Verhoeven’s RoboCop success with an adventure that eFilmCritic’s Scott Weinberg deemed “Brutally ugly and irresistibly entertaining.”


3. Batman Begins

Nobody exudes an air of chilly, impeccably groomed menace quite like Rutger Hauer — a talent that served him well in his small but pivotal role as Wayne Enterprises CEO William Earle in Batman Begins. After Thomas Wayne’s murder, and the departure of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) for years of soul-searching, Earle remade the company in his own image — which included turning it into a publicly traded weapons manufacturer. Though he was a foe far more easily vanquished than, say, the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) or Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson), Earle was plenty nefarious in his own way, and his presence helped add subtext to a film that reinvigorated the superhero genre and moved Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune to write, “If comic books must be a staple of our movie diet, please let them be as thought-provoking and thrilling as this.”


2. Blade Runner

Rutger Hauer has been part of a few cult classics in his day, but none have been cultier — or classic-er — than Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. An adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner starred Harrison Ford as the replicant-hunting Rick Deckard, and Hauer as his chief target, the replicant known as Roy Batty. It was a flop during its theatrical run in 1982, but we all know what happened next: Runner is almost universally regarded as a sci-fi classic, as well as a longtime favorite of critics like Roger Ebert, who called it “a seminal film, building on older classics like Metropolis or Things to Come, but establishing a pervasive view of the future that has influenced science fiction films ever since.”


1. Soldier of Orange

We tend not to hear much about the Dutch film industry, but it’s produced its share of great films and major talents — and with 1978’s Soldier of Orange, it gave us a combination of the two, by introducing Hollywood to director/co-writer Paul Verhoeven. Hauer had already worked with Verhoeven on multiple occasions, but none made the kind of international splash enjoyed by this drama about Dutch college students during World War II — it earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, not to mention the praise of critics like the New York Times’ Vincent Canby, who wrote, “Soldier of Orange may not be great art but it’s a good yarn. And the combined effects of Mr. Verhoeven’s comfortingly old-fashioned storytelling and Mr. Hauer’s unexpectedly brittle performance keep it moving at a fast clip.”

In case you were wondering, here are Hauer’s top 10 movies according RT users’ scores:

1. Batman Begins — 90%

2. Blade Runner — 89%

3. Soldier of Orange — 87%

4. Turkish Delight — 78%

5. Sin City — 75%

6. The Hitcher — 73%

7. Ladyhawke — 72%

8. The Blood of Heroes — 72%

9. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind — 71%

10. Simon Magus — 65%

Take a look through Hauer’s complete filmography, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for The Rite.

Finally, here’s Hauer enjoying a cool, refreshing pint of Guinness — and poking fun at himself in the process:

Tag Cloud

WarnerMedia Television Critics Association halloween TCA Winter 2020 Family Netflix GoT Hear Us Out new star wars movies classics TV One Turner blockbusters ITV technology Video Games french superhero Shudder HBO Musicals hist Best Director Music New York Comic Con vampires thriller DirecTV crime kong dexter 007 Schedule Pirates IFC Endgame Marvel Studios Broadway cancelled TV series wonder woman Drama docuseries Calendar discovery 72 Emmy Awards Stephen King unscripted President Sony Trivia Polls and Games miniseries PlayStation posters 2018 tv talk NBC critic resources Paramount Plus art house mutant parents Quiz casting emmy awards Interview Comics on TV know your critic historical drama obituary genre Peacock American Society of Cinematographers biopic rotten broadcast TV Land AMC Plus A&E spanish language diversity critics series HBO Max scene in color aapi MGM Western CBS All Access universal monsters scene in color film series Academy Awards First Reviews nature TV renewals Sneak Peek cartoon strong female leads adaptation Lifetime Marvel Television TV movies Wes Anderson 73rd Emmy Awards Best and Worst Podcast SXSW 2022 scary movies debate medical drama legend FX movies lord of the rings women Box Office anthology rom-coms binge indie The Purge The Walt Disney Company Grammys batman spinoff Crackle Disney Channel video on demand ID PaleyFest El Rey Disney+ Disney Plus popular feel good NYCC singing competition The Walking Dead DGA franchise mockumentary Classic Film worst movies witnail supernatural Starz versus Rock summer TV BBC Image Comics south america new york Christmas sag awards hidden camera streaming movies sopranos Amazon Prime biography Paramount Pictures Mary Tyler Moore DC Universe Turner Classic Movies Elton John dramedy trailers TCA Mudbound 2015 FXX Fargo australia fresh Sundance Now Thanksgiving 1990s Election animated Disney streaming service target scene in color Amazon Prime Video 2021 golden globes Black History Month Set visit Brie Larson book harry potter crime drama Country streaming prank Food Network international Mary Poppins Returns rt labs critics edition heist movie CW Seed Nominations Universal Hallmark Christmas movies NBA Adult Swim 93rd Oscars japan comiccon die hard cops Photos AMC Rocky scorecard Warner Bros. Action 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards toy story nfl what to watch Film Comedy basketball Hollywood Foreign Press Association comic book movies rt archives TruTV Binge Guide TCA 2017 football San Diego Comic-Con mission: impossible Instagram Live E3 Chernobyl Ghostbusters italian A24 child's play Emmys Arrowverse E! Pop TV Awards Tour Esquire finale scary films all-time movie summer TV preview quibi comic book movie The Academy spain screenings Opinion Martial Arts Heroines SundanceTV GLAAD Mary poppins Apple TV+ aliens concert Logo live event Netflix Christmas movies Dark Horse Comics cats Valentine's Day IFC Films dark composers kids nbcuniversal Countdown facebook stop motion Oscars Sci-Fi Fall TV Red Carpet TIFF 45 2016 directors Extras USA Television Academy pirates of the caribbean YA YouTube Red GIFs Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt adenture dceu Funimation high school vs. venice canceled TV shows saw zero dark thirty USA Network television indiana jones mcc reviews comics cars Cosplay Star Trek History reboot dc toronto doctor who Best Actress werewolf gangster boxing Neflix richard e. Grant book adaptation zombies chucky breaking bad golden globe awards documentary OWN Masterpiece Musical Rom-Com Animation transformers HBO Go a nightmare on elm street marvel cinematic universe hispanic MCU king kong police drama godzilla Comedy Central rotten movies we love Hallmark Avengers boxoffice Cannes Biopics political drama Marathons blaxploitation green book Paramount FOX Sundance Freeform 21st Century Fox Infographic Sony Pictures OneApp black japanese Hulu renewed TV shows video based on movie free movies sports VOD MSNBC Oscar South by Southwest Film Festival Focus Features psychological thriller Kids & Family 90s period drama news ABC BBC One serial killer BET Awards sequels Native spider-verse adventure Epix festival stand-up comedy justice league comic books 20th Century Fox suspense Premiere Dates cancelled television young adult Ovation Song of Ice and Fire zombie target criterion independent TLC dreamworks superman streamig hollywood crossover Columbia Pictures Star Wars Celebration satire Legendary space spanish interviews Mindy Kaling joker game show science fiction Fox Searchlight Winter TV Holiday rt labs slasher Apple IMDb TV travel CBS The Arrangement Discovery Channel Shondaland Tarantino 24 frames remakes game of thrones Indigenous LGBT cooking TNT PBS BAFTA Women's History Month spider-man Apple TV Plus revenge Disney Plus canceled ESPN X-Men DC Comics Pop HFPA elevated horror asian-american stoner comedies Rocketman 79th Golden Globes Awards Pacific Islander children's TV trophy DC streaming service Exclusive Video hispanic heritage month black comedy natural history Trophy Talk TCA Awards Universal Pictures documentaries romantic comedy 2019 Comic Book Teen TV CMT Best Picture Amazon psycho Writers Guild of America Cartoon Network Pride Month razzies Character Guide LGBTQ Summer twilight ghosts summer preview Showtime cancelled Ellie Kemper RT History Marvel ratings Reality kaiju Nickelodeon Fox News name the review Lionsgate olympics halloween tv war Disney award winner Black Mirror deadpool BBC America Syfy Trailer Captain marvel YouTube Premium slashers Bravo cancelled TV shows SXSW TBS The CW SDCC talk show Geeked Week monster movies Film Festival Amazon Studios VH1 TCM cinemax APB Travel Channel teaser royal family king arthur scene in color series live action telelvision Fantasy Spike WGN screen actors guild FX on Hulu 99% christmas movies MTV romance fast and furious Year in Review Emmy Nominations Holidays robots BET RT21 anime Acorn TV Walt Disney Pictures 2017 jurassic park Superheroe social media Crunchyroll crime thriller National Geographic Star Wars Mystery cults blockbuster disaster ViacomCBS leaderboard mob CNN best Alien Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Tomatazos Vudu spy thriller Reality Competition Horror Spectrum Originals Super Bowl Tags: Comedy Spring TV Nat Geo worst Toys The Witch action-comedy Creative Arts Emmys Superheroes marvel comics See It Skip It Pixar ABC Signature latino comic james bond sequel theme song Lucasfilm Sundance TV sitcom Best Actor dragons new zealand Watching Series Winners Tubi Certified Fresh politics 71st Emmy Awards ABC Family Paramount Network true crime festivals 94th Oscars docudrama laika YouTube Comic-Con@Home 2021 archives Tumblr foreign Britbox Pet Sematary 2020 Awards jamie lee curtis Lifetime Christmas movies Tokyo Olympics VICE Prime Video 4/20 Anna Paquin Baby Yoda obi wan dogs First Look