Split Second (1992)
Split Second (1992)

Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 31 min.

Release Date: May 1st, 1992 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Tony Maylam Actors: Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Neil Duncan, Michael J. Pollard, Alun Armstrong, Pete Postlethwaite, Roberta Eaton, Steven Hartley, Sarah Stockbridge




ondon 2008 (which is intended to be futuristic, as this movie debuted in 1992). After forty days and nights of torrential rain, the city is largely submersed in water, a result of the devastating effects of continued global warming. The warnings ignored for decades have now resulted in undreamed-of levels of pollution, where day has become almost endless night. Thus begins “Split Second,” a mix of so many other more successful, dark, post-environmental-disaster science-fiction films. While the opening leads audiences to believe there will be some sort of message about destroying the ecosystem, the project is actually an action-packed monster movie – with respect only for stylish leather trench coats, heavy artillery, and bloodthirsty violence.

Harley Stone (Rutger Hauer) is a determined, aggressive, and bullying cop equipped with ultra-macho gear, including hefty leather boots, a lengthy black jacket, a giant hand-cannon, and an all-terrain armored police Jeep. He never enters a room without letting everyone know he’s there – and he doesn’t leave until something has been destroyed. He brushes his teeth with coffee, constantly has a cigarette in his mouth, and has pigeons wandering around his unkempt apartment. And just for the sake of being a particularly rowdy badass, he also has the need for sunglasses, especially in the dark.

His former partner Foster McLaine (Steven Hartley) was murdered three years earlier by a serial killer’s attack that left Stone with a grisly scar on his shoulder, and now the unhinged officer has a gut feeling that the murderer is back in town. Stone starts in a seedy bondage strip club, looking for signs of the return of the vicious butcher. Sure enough, he strikes again, this time attacking a young blonde in the restroom and leaving a torn up body and the message “I’m Back” spelled out in blood. When the perpetrator eludes his grasp, Stone belligerently returns to the precinct, sporting his signature abusive disdain for his fellow officers (including Pete Postlethwaite in a hilarious supporting role). “I work alone!” he yells to his commander, but Harley is nevertheless assigned a new partner, Dick Durkin (Neil Duncan), an intellectual but naive detective who likes to use scientific training to track similarities in the victims and the psychopathic personality of the murderer – instead of carving a hole through the city with a shotgun.

The killer continues to attack random victims and leave bloody clues, such as a message written on the ceiling in fluids and organs unceremoniously removed from their owner. There’s no motive and no patterns, and when he finally corners the creep in the morgue, Stone unloads his .450 magnum but hits nothing. It’s as if the culprit is superhuman. The two policemen adopt bigger weapons when the murderer makes the situation personal by taunting Stone with a human heart in his refrigerator and stalking raven-haired Michelle (Kim Cattrall), an old flame whom Harley stole away from Foster after his death.

From the London Necropolis to the underground rat-infested sewers – full of tunnels, leaking water, dim lights, abandoned wreckage, and general filth – “Split Second” spares no production value on the sets and locations. They’re all grim, foreboding, futuristic, and the perfect place for a showdown with an alien (the poster artwork and advertisements don’t really try to hide the secret of the assassin, which is, in fact, not human). The lighting and atmosphere are nearly perfect, too; visually, the production is an impressive piece. Unfortunately, style supersedes substance, with the film ending nowhere as creatively as it began. It’s as if the writers couldn’t think of a satisfactory way to conclude the suspenseful horror momentum they initiated, which is a shame considering Hauer’s ease as a B-movie antihero and the fitting look of the environments.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10