The story begins with Eddie "Hudson Hawk" Hawkins (Willis),a master burglar and safe-cracker,attempting to celebrate his first day of parole from prison with a cappuccino.Before he can get it,he is blackmailed by various entities,including his own parole officer,a minor Newark Mafia family (headed by Stallone),and the CIA (Coburn along with Caruso and Toussaint and others),into doing several dangerous art heists.Throughout the movie,Hudson attempts to enjoy a cappuccino,but is foiled each time.The holders of the various players' puppet strings turn out to be a "psychotic American corporation",Mayflower Industries,run by a husband-and-wife team (Grant and Bernhard) and their blade-slinging butler.The company,headquartered in the Esposizione Universale Roma (E.U.R.) in Rome,is seeking to take over the world by reconstructing "La Macchina dell'Oro",a machine purportedly invented by Leonardo da Vinci which converts lead into gold. A special assembly of crystals needed for the machine to function are hidden in a variety of Leonardo's artworks:the Sforza,the Da Vinci Codex,and a scale model of DaVinci's helicopter design.Sister Anna Baragli (MacDowell),initially his tail and later his refuge (and subsequent love interest),is an operative for a secretive Vatican counter-espionage agency,called the Vatican Organization by George Kaplan, which makes an unexplained arrangement with the CIA to assist in the Roman portion of Hudson's mission,though apparently intending all along to use the connection to foil the robbery at St.Peter's Basilica.On his second attempt to drink a capuccino,Hawk is blackmailed by Gates,his parole officer,and the mafia family, Cesar and Antony Mario, to steal the Sforza from the museum. Afterward,Gates is killed by Alfred, the butler.Later, the Mario Bros. attempt to kill Hawk inside an ambulance, but are killed when their driver crashes the ambulance as a result of Hawk sticking needles in Antony's face.Immediately afterwards,Hawk meets George Kaplan and his CIA agents: Snickers,Kit Kat, Almond Joy and Butterfinger,who take him to Darwin and Minerva Mayflower. Hawk successfully steals the Da Vinci Codex from another museum,but eventually refuses to steal the helicopter design,and Tommy fakes his death so they can escape.However,they are found and attacked by the CIA Agents.Kit Kat and Butterfinger take Anna to the castle.Tommy trips Snickers,causing his bomb launcher to shoot a bomb onto his head.Hudson and Tommy escape while Snickers and Almond Joy are killed when the bomb goes off.The movie culminates in a showdown at Leonardo's castle, between the remaining CIA agents,the Mayflowers and the team of Hudson,Five-Tone and Baragli,to stop
the Mayflowers from successfully operating the machine,during which Kit Kat and Butterfingers are betrayed and killed by Minerva.Tommy fights Darwin and Alfred inside Darwin's limo,while Hudson fights George Kaplan on the roog,and knocks him on top of the limo.Alfred, though wounded,jumps out of the limo with Darwin and plants a bomb on it,with Tommy trapped inside and George on the hood, and it explodes just as it falls over a cliff. Darwin and Minerva force Hawk to put together the crystal powering the machine, but Hawk intentionally leaves out one small piece.As a result, when the Mayflowers try the machine, it explodes and kills Minerva.In the battle that follows, Darwin is electrocuted and Hawk battles Alfred, and eventually decapitates him on his own blades. Hudson and Baragli escape the castle and discover that Tommy survived the crash due to airbags and sprinklers inside the limo.The movie ends with Hudson finally drinking a cappuccino.
Eddie (Bruce Willis), un ladro appena uscito dalla sua cella, si rincontra dopo molti anni con un suo vecchio amico e "collega" Tommy (Danny Aiello).
Ritornato nel vecchio bar di proprietà dei due, Tommy gli propone un affare da non perdere, e lui anche non volendo ritornare a fare il ladro si ritrova
costretto a rubare dei cristalli (costruiti da Leonardo Da Vinci) rinchiusi in delle opere d'arte famose, nei più grandi musei del mondo, che messi insieme
riuscirebbero a tramutare il vile piombo in puro e tanto amato oro (una sorta di pietra filosofale).