Split Second (1992) – Film Review
Director: Tony Maylam
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Alastair Duncan, Kim Cattrall
by Sarah Morgan
I’ve been thinking a lot about Split Second since watching it for the first time. It’s a bizarre movie, an odd mix of hi-tech sci-fi, mystery, comedy, monster movie, buddy flick and suspense, made in Britain with a then-major star and recognisable homegrown character actors at a time when the UK film industry was on the bones of its backside.
It’s almost undefinable, but not in a good way – it’s as if the makers threw everything and the kitchen sink at it in the hope something would stick. Apparently the movie now has a cult following, and although it has some good points, it’s far from being a classic.
Rutger Hauer is the lead actor and it’s fair to say he isn’t exactly pushed by the material. Instead, he phones in his performance as Harley Stone, a tough detective who, we learn early on, is the best in the business and yet has been fired by every police force he’s ever worked for because he is, to say the least, a maverick.
Hauer glowers and stomps through the role as Stone attempts to track down the villain that murdered his partner, an event that also turned Stone into some kind of obsessive maniac.
His superior officer brings him back from suspension to take the case, and teams him with Dick Durkin (yes, that really is the character’s name), an earnest young ‘tec he doesn’t want around but, surprise surprise, begins to prove his worth and win over his ever-growling new partner.
Making their task more difficult is the fact that London, where their quarry is wreaking havoc, is semi-flooded thanks to global warming, and is a perennially dark, unpleasant place to be.
It isn’t a spoiler to say that eventually the killer is tracked down to a disused underground station and meets an explosive state – this is not the kind of film that has an ambiguous or surprise ending. But when it was eventually revealed I found I was reminded of two other creatures: Spider-Man villain Venom and the hero of The Shape of Water, both of which were not created until after Split Second’s release – could this simple-minded low-budget offering have been an inspiration to both? Perhaps we’ll never know, but it’s an intriguing idea.
“Jam-packed special features”
Although the movie itself isn’t up to much, it’s worth watching to spot the familiar faces among the supporting cast – Alun Armstrong, Pete Postlethwaite, Kim Cattrall, Michael J Pollard, Ian Dury, Jason Watkins and Vivienne Westwood’s sometime muse Sara Stockridge all pop up. Perhaps they were simply at a loose end at the time – I can’t imagine why else they would be involved, particularly as their roles involve them saying some of the worst lines of their careers.
The jam-packed special features include interviews with crew members and Neil Duncan, who plays Durkin, which detail their careers before and since as well as the making of the film – and what they have to say is far more intriguing than the movie itself.
• High Definition (1080p) presentation of the main feature in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, newly scanned, restored and colour graded in 4K from the 35MM internegative
• Audio Commentary by action film historian Mike Leeder and filmmaker Arne Venema
• “Great Big Bloody Guns!” Producer Laura Gregory & Actor Alastair (Neil) Duncan on Split Second (HD, 27:25)
• “Call Me Mr. Snips!” An Interview with Composer Stephen W. Parsons (HD, 22:21)
• “Stay In Line!” An Interview with Line Producer Laurie Borg (HD, 23:02)
• “More Blood!” An Interview with Creature Effects Designer Cliff Wallace (HD, 32:03)
• “Shoot Everything!” An Interview with Cinematographer Clive Tickner (HD, 18:57)
• Limited edition booklet: Includes Monster Mash: Making Split Second by Scott Harrison, and Behind Blue Eyes: Rutger Hauer, Unlikely Action Star by Phillip Escott
• Newly commissioned artwork by Keith Robinson
• Original 1992 Split Second “Making of” featurette featuring interviews with stars Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Alastair (Neil) Duncan, Michael J. Pollard, Writer Gary Scott Thompson and more! (SD, 6:12)
• Original 1992 behind the scenes feature featuring effects creator Stephen Norrington, cast and crew (SD, 3:31)
• Split Second Japanese Cut, full frame with burnt-in Japanese subtitles (SD, 95:00)
• Deleted Scenes from the Japanese Cut (English, burnt-in Japanese subtitles) (SD, 4:30)
• 7 Promotional TV Clips (SD)
• U.S. VHS Home Video Promo
Split Second is released on Blu-ray by 101 Films, £15