- Directed by Tony Maylam and Ian Sharp
- May 1, 1992
A cop on the edge hunts down the killer of his partner only to discover something far worse.
Split Second is a science-fiction mismatched buddy cop action film centering around a burnt-out cop hunting down his partner’s killer. This is a mix of Blade Runner, Alien, and the aforementioned mismatched buddy cop genre that was popular during the 80s and early 90s with some vague supernatural elements tossed in.
I am astounded how many films from the 80s and 90s that were set in the future are now in the past. This movie takes in an environmentally ravaged 2008 where global warming has caused sea levels to rise and London to become a flooded rat-infested mess and there to be a monster problem as well. No matter the date of release, set your future films far off enough that the bulk of the original audience will not live to see the date.
Rutger Hauer plays Det. Harley Stone who is our central character driven as much guilt as he is by revenge. Not only could he not save his partner, but Stone also was boinking his partner’s wife at the same time. I know tough cops in the 80s and 90s were a touch on the dysfunctional side yet the best there was at their job, but this strikes me as a little bit too dysfunctional. And more importantly it doesn’t appear that there was an ever investigation for his partners death focusing on Stone. Considering he was having an affair with his partner’s wife he would probably be suspect number one.
Anywho as per usual Stone gets matched with another detective named Dick Durkin (Neil Duncan) who is straightlaced and by the book and very knowledgeable. The complete opposite and somehow inferior of Stone. The dude knows his stuff but the drinking brute that shoots first and asks questions never is the best cop there is. If you think you would get anything else then you are not familiar with the era.
There’s a scene towards the beginning where Stone is tracking the killer at a nightclub and he’s using the payphone (it takes credit cards!) next to the women’s bathroom. A young woman is going in and she says for Stone to keep an eye out so no one follows her in and watches her pee. I guess it’s meant to be flirty or kind of sexy but that’s just gross. And that moment gives you a good idea of how sophisticated this movie will get.
Split Second is pure mindless action. It’s a shoot first and ask questions never. It’s ridiculous and over-the-top entertainment not meant to have anything deeper than what you would find at the surface. At best it’s a nature’s revenge type thriller-maybe. Given the environmental calamity going on one could view this as nature striking back somehow. It could also be taken as a supernatural serial killer as by eating the heart the creature is seeking to take the powers and the soul of his victims as well as doing that by absorbing their DNA. There also appears to be a psychic connection between anybody that survives an attack and the creature. Toss in that he only attacks during high tide.
To be fair this started out as one type of film when originally conceived and by the time it got to the screen it was something different. Heck, its original name was Pentagram and it was set in the present in Los Angeles. The original story (as also indicated by what we got) comes off a bit like a film called The First Power.
This movie tosses in a lot. It’s one bonkers element after another. Production values are minimal but they do manage to create an effective environment. They were smart enough to know that it was the near future and it wouldn’t be technologically speaking vastly different from the time of 1992.
The man in the rubber suit-I mean creature-looks a lot like the creature from Alien but it is so poorly lit actually seeing it is rather difficult. It probably wasn’t that great of a costume, and they knew it. I’m not against poorly lighting the monster in a movie but at some point you need to give a good visual shot of it as payoff for the viewer. You watch a monster movie to see the monster and when you don’t actually get to see the monster even just once in all its glory then the viewer is just getting jerked around.
Kim Cattrall is the film’s eye candy as Michelle McLaine who is the widow of Stone’s partner. She’s also the victim to give the finale emotional residence. She’s relatively age-appropriate for Rutger Hauer which goes against the grain in these movies. They didn’t pair a much older gentleman with an exceedingly young and attractive woman and I give them props for that. As often as it worked it could get kind of creepy too.
The story isn’t bad but nothing that will blow your mind off away. This movie’s main selling points are bad jokes and exceeding violence. It’s from a time when such things were acceptable to put in a movie. This movie though never achieves trashy greatness. It achieves guilty pleasure status.
The directing is competent but the dialogue is cheesy and bad yet delivered in a serious manner as if those involved felt they were doing high art. With the likes of Rutger Hauer, Michael J. Pollard as ‘The Rat Catcher’, Alun Armstrong as ‘Thrasher’, and Pete Postlethwaite as Paulsen how could you not get great performances? Pollard in particular regularly worked magic in whatever role he took. They all made this better than it was.
Split Second is an interesting blend of genres that will appeal to a select group of film fans. If you’re into mindless violence and monsters and dumb action and this movie is for you. Otherwise skip it.