Split Second (1992)
WRITER: Gary Scott Thompson
DIRECTOR: Tony Maylam
STARRING: Rutger Hauer as Harley Stone
Kim Cattrall as Michelle
Neil Duncan as Dick Durkin
Alun Armstrong as Thrasher
Pete Postlethwaite as Paulsen
Michael J. Pollard as The Rat Catcher
QUICK CUT: In the far flung future of six years ago, detective Harley Stone tracks down a killer leaving heartless bodies in its wake.
Harley Stone - Your typical hard-ass crazy cop of the 80s and 90s. His need for smokes and coffee is so overdone it's more of a joke than a personality trait. The driving force in his life is someday tracking down the thing that killed his last partner. He does not suffer fools lightly.
Dick Durkin - The latest fool that Harley has to suffer, and his newest partner. He is the straight-laced by the book foil to play off of Stone's crazy side. Why mess with a working formula?
Michelle - The girlfriend of Harley's dead partner, and his occasional girlfriend. She likes to take a lot of showers to up the T&A of the movie.
THE GUTS: Happy day before Valentines Day, Triskelions! I'm slightly breaking from format with a movie that's a little more scifi, but there is still plenty of horror to be had here. It's also maybe a little too put together for normal Trisking, but this is the perfect day to do this movie. First of all, Split Second features a killer tearing out people's hearts. That's Valentine's Day at Trisk to a T! But also, this is a movie I absolutely LOVE, and need to share this forgotten gem.
The movie introduces us right away to the world of 2008, and a nearly drowned city of London, which has become submerged after 40 days straight of nothing but rain. But I don't know why I'm telling you about this. 2008 was six years ago! We all remember the Great Flood back then, and how pollution has gotten so bad that day is almost non-existant. I mean, *I* love it, but we are all well aware of what happened back then.
Don't you just love living in times beyond movies set in the far future? Although, man. Poisoning the air, wild weather patterns, terrible rains...this movie ended up having one of THE MOST prescient visions of the future, didn't it? I mean, uh, minus the killer demon thing. But we'll get to that.
It's not long before we're introduced to Detective Harley Stone, and just by looking at him, you know what you're gonna get. And not just because he's Rutger Hauer. Cigar chomping, long black trenchcoat, armed with a gun half his size over his shoulder...and if that didn't sum him up, we hear the cops are looking for him, and that he's armed and dangerous. When the movie STARTS with your co-workers putting out an APB for you, you know you are a bad-ass.
We also get a little more world building over the radio as we learn a little history, with more word on flooding, global warming, and an increasing rat problem. And the best details are purely visual, the constantly flooded roads and blackened skies. You can't walk anywhere without going ankle deep in water, and half the vehicles are small hovercraft.
Stone hits up the nearest S&M dungeon, and asks for a couple coffees, another defining trait of his. Forget trying to find the thing that killed his partner. This movie is a quest for Stone to find more guns and more coffee.
And speaking of killers, Stone calls his old boss at the precinct to see if he's heard about any new dead bodies, but the chief is too busy yelling at his suspended detective. Stone knows there's going to be one soon, he can feel it. And the thumping heartbeat we can hear probably means he's right.
Stone tries to find the possible killer and victim in the crowded club, but by the time he hears the screams, it's too late. All he finds is the leftovers.
Harley covers the dead girl up with his jacket, and sees a message written in her blood on the walls, I'm Back. Oh good! I was wondering! Did you remember to bring home some milk? We are fresh out. Oh, and some rat traps, we have a huge problem, it seems...
Our hero rushes out into the growing crowd, and points his gun at pretty much everyone, grabbing hands and checking for blood, hoping someone saw something. I'm starting to see why this guy got suspended. He is not exactly subtle.
And when you start questioning the dog with a loaded weapon, you gotta wonder just where Stone's sanity lies.
Before he can shoot the dog for obstructing justice, Stone spots a blood trail you could almost sail a paper boat down. He follows it outside where he loses it, though. What he does find is another police detective that he shoves back into the club.
We get some backstory on Stone when his new partner chats with the chief about his past, and we learn that Stone's last partner was killed several years ago by a serial killer that got away, and he may have gone a little nuts from guilt. Trashcans beware!
Stone returns to the precinct and gets a proper cup of coffee, and a proper introduction to Dick Durkin. One that doesn't involve a gun in anyone's face. And it is your typical pairing, with Stone being the off the wall, crazy, over the top, violent type, and Durkin being by the book, straight laced, and buttoned up.
The chief goes through Stone's medical file, filled with reports of Stone being paranoid and suffering from anxiety. Y'know, maybe if he cut down on the caffeine...
After getting MORE coffee, someone notices Stone's gotten a delivery, and everyone assumes it's some of the detective's booze being wheeled in. But it's no booze, and instead inside the crate is a half-eaten heart. Our dynamic duo head off to see what they can find, and leave everyone else to deal with my bloody Valentine.
Stone returns to the scene of the crime and lays in the chalk outline until he's interrupted by the club owner and his dog. Stone seems more interested in speaking with the canine, convinced that he's the only other one besides himself that can see whatever's doing the killings.
After interrogating the dog, Starsky & Hutch get a call to another homicide, and discover yet another body without a heart. Stone knows exactly when it was killed, with no explanation given.
Stone finds his partner's old gun there, a sign just for him, but before they can ponder on the meaning of that, they are distracted by the more important things scrawled in blood on the ceiling.
This is where the plot starts to turn. Aside from going unseen, things have been pretty conventional, if a bit bloody, up to this point. But now we're bringing in aspects of the occult, and no clear way for anyone to scrawl all that blood on the ceilling without being 10, 13 feet tall. This is a typical police murder investigation taking a turn for the weird. And I love that. We have a blonde, snarky, cynical, world weary detective in a trenchcoat and a smoking problem, who doesn't want anything to do with magic. This is the Constantine/Hellblazer movie you've always wanted but never knew existed.
Another cop shows up with the dentition from the eaten heart, and it's more fangs than anything else. Stone begins to hear the drumming heartbeat again, and empties his hand cannon into the air trying to hit whatever it is stalking the streets. All that gets him is every single gun from every single cop pointed in his face.
They head back to the station house where Stone is seen with even more coffee...and using it to brush his teeth. Dick tries to get any information or even just a straight answer out of his partner, but with very little luck.
Stone ditches Dick and visits the grave of his former partner, running into his and his partner's ex, Michelle. He takes her back to his place, and its actually a good scene to show more of Stone's personality. He's quieter with her, softer, and doesn't sound anywhere near as crazy while speaking with her. It's a clear contrast between the two periods of Stone's life, and illustrates it with just some simple acting choices.
The two doze off, and Stone later wakes up and sneaks out. The only thing he does quietly and without explosions. Oh, and he gets more coffee. Outside, he finds Durkin has turned up and also passed out in his jeep. Stone sneaks over and ties his bootlaces together before waking his partner up as loudly as possible. Quite frankly, the pranking is a likely sign that Harley likes the guy.
Stone and Durkin bullshit in the car for a bit, before the heartbeat returns. Stone needs coffee before investigating, and ignores his instincts. They grab breakfast while the killer borrows a gun from Stone's car and sneaks into the apartment. Careful, the place looks like it might have security designed by Macauley Culkin.
While Michelle grabs a shower, and the killer watches like it's Norman Bates, our cops discuss the facts of the case over a plate of eggs. It all centers around Scorpio, a water sign, and the tides and the moon, and a lot of mystical crap. Oh, and Harley just so happens to be a Scorpio too, tying this all together, kinda. Seriously, John Constantine would love and hate this crap.
You can actually see trust building between the two, and their strengths and weaknesses bouncing off each other. Stone may not be dumb, but he's more of a blunt object and brute force than someone who uses his head, while Durkin's got the book smarts but lacks in experience, and can bring a lot of that to the table and fill in the holes made by Stone's lack of practical knowledge. Or impractical, since we're talking astrology and the occult, but whichever.
They get a call of an intruder at the apartment complex where Stone lives, and hurry back. Stone fears the worst but just finds Michelle still taking a shower, then rushes after screams from downstairs. What they find is an armed room of nothingness shooting the place up.
Stone chases the gunshots into the bathroom where he finds his weapon left behind, and yet another body. Michelle comes running in, screaming that she was bitten by whatever it was.
While cleaning up the scene, Stone has a panic attack and the medical guys there give him a shot and oxygen to calm him down, and we fall into flashback territory. We get to watch as Stone's partner appears briefly and is sucked underwater before we can really get to know him.
We also catch a brief glimpse of the creature before seeing it claw through Stone's arm, which leads us right into seeing the scars he now has because of the attack. This also serves as explanation for the psychic connection between him and the creature.
It's back to the precinct to catch up with the new facts, and Stone to toss around a fellow cop or two in the process. The most important thing we learn is that whatever the killer is, it has all the DNA from its former victims, including Stone and some rats. They could tell the difference?
We find out as well that the last victim still has its heart, the killer having been interrupted by Stone in the process of its ritual. Stone rightly assumes that means the creature is not done yet, and they race down to the morgue.
They stalk through the morgue until the creature crashes down from crawling inside the ceiling. They shoot the place up quite a bit, but the thing still escapes.
Durkin's in a state of shock after what he saw, and his calm, British exterior is cracking under the pressure. Having Stone as a bad influence isn't helping any either, as the by the book guy starts to lose it and declares they need bigger guns. Which is the best idea I think anyone has ever had in any movie on this site.
My sole complaint is that they only gave us smokey, shadowy flashes of the creature. At most we saw a clawed hand. You could go along with Durkin's breakdown a lot better if they had chosen to give us a little more of the monster. Understandable why they didn't though; you don't want to see it too clearly because of effects budgets, plus there's nothing more powerful than the imagination, and you don't want to blow your big reveal. But this would really have been the time, since it is such a major event in Durkin's arc.
Not only do they arm up, but Durkin chugs back a couple black coffees, some chocolate, and a smoke. Aww, Stone has to be so proud that he has so utterly corrupted him. But then again, seeing a gigantic, clawed monster will make you go 'round the bend, it seems.
But there's still enough of the old Durkin left in there to piece things together, and it all sounds just the wrong side of crazy to the chief. He spouts off such seeming nonsense of this all tying into the floods, and the rats, since 2008 is the year of the rat, and the water ties in with Scorpio and the tides, and it all comes back to Satan. Because when doesn't it? And if that sounds a bit incoherent, the movie only does a slightly better job of explaining.
So we have a creature stalking the flooded streets of London, devouring hearts to take their power, DNA, and souls, and bringing them back to hell. Has anyone checked in to see what Hannibal Lecter is up to? I'm just sayin'...
They head to Stone's place for more coffee and to figure out their next move, which Stone doesn't see happening. He knows the creature is hunting them, not the other way around. A point proven when he goes to get some milk from the fridge and finds another heart.
Stone disposes of the heart, ignoring that its evidence but we've established he's not the greatest cop out there. They hear water running and they advance on the bathroom with their bigger fucking guns. But it's just Michelle taking another bath. Okay movie, you gotta stop pulling that trick. I'll allow it once, twice is pushing it, a third time would be too much.
He sends Durkin down to the jeep to keep an eye on things outside, and helps Michelle deal with having touched the leftovers in the fridge. But Durkin soon sees something lurking in the shadows, and when Stone looks outside, he sees the jeep is gone and goes looking for himself.
Stone finds Durkin tied up in the back of the jeep, and you gotta admire the delicacy with which a ten foot tall creature with giant talons has done this to the guy. They get Durkin out of the car, just in time to hear Michelle screaming and firing shots as the creature attacks her. I swear, if she's back in the shower when they get home...
They burst into Stone's apartment, probably a bit underarmed to clean the place up, but Durkin tries anyways. He sees a rat and shoots up Stone's kitchen into tiny little flamey bits. I am not joking. But he did get the rat!
About that time is when Dick realises the creature has decided to make a doodle out of his chest, and passes out from a bit of blood loss and shock. When he comes to, he sees some of the symbology running through the movie laid bare on his chest, and Stone thinks it might be a map.
They trace out the map and figure that the tail of Scorpio is pointing to where Stone's partner died, and once Satan kills Stone in the same place, the circle shall be complete, and the student shall become the master...wait. Wrong movie. The circle shall be complete, and thus the rituals.
But there's a problem, as usual. The only ways to the final boss level are all blocked off thanks to the flooding. Stone knows a guy, and they pay him a visit to get him down there through a series of secret tunnels only the Rat Catcher knows about.
Turner & Hooch stumble around the tunnels for a bit until they find the Rat Catcher and his friend got killed while no one was looking, and then fall down a hole and find Michelle, surprisingly still alive and not taking a shower.
She's surrounded by a circle of light on the surface of the water that Durkin insists Stone not disturb for some reason. So they have her swing up to Durkin atop a subway car, and he pulls her free. Just in time for the creature to burst out of the water like it's someone's chest.
Lots of shooting and destruction of the subway cars ensue, as the monster seems to think it's Wolverine. Which is a fair judgment, considering. It's got the claws, it slices through anything, and can take a few hundred bullets and just keep coming at you. And considering the similarities to the legends of the wendigo, it may just be Logan after a bad night of cannibalism.
Durkin and the girl get away for the time being, and Stone stalks through the train trying to find the creature. As he turns thinking he hears something, the monster steps out of the darkness, but still remains mostly unseen due to its height and remaining behind Stone.
It wraps its fingers around Stone's head, and there's something so borderline creepy about this. You still don't see the creature, just the caress it gives Stone, the nemesis that has been hunting it for three years now. It's almost sensual, and off putting for that reason alone. It's just enough of the creature to know it's not human, and its sheer size making it too large for the movie to even show it somehow works for the monster, keeping it hidden and mysterious.
The creature savors the moment a little too much though, giving Stone enough time to recover his wits, and trigger finger. It also gives Durkin enough time to return to the plot with the grenade we saw them fiddling with earlier to try and blow shit up.
An explosion actually seems to have dazed Satan, at least long enough for Stone to grab a live electrical wire and shove it into the water, so Durkin can turn things on and make for some crispy fried Lucifer.
Remember kids, if you're gonna be a water-based demonic entity, you gotta plan ahead for someone using electricity against you. Fortunately, it seems that big black suit of the creatures really IS made of rubber, because that didn't stop it. Instead, it grabs Stone and they get a real up close face to face.
Stone turns the tables, seeing the creature is wounded quite a bit, and plunges his hand into the thing's chest, pulling out its own heart for a change. Boy, it sure is a good thing that monster has the same exact physiology as a human! Imagine if he came out with a kidney? That would've been embarassing.
The monster stands there dumbfounded, staring at the hole in its chest, unable to believe Stone did what he just did to it. Durkin runs in and fires off a dozen shots into it, and Stone finishes things off by blasting the still beating heart in his hands with his gigantic handgun.
Michelle asks the all-important question of if the thing is dead, and everyone seems pretty much stumped. Which is pretty brilliant, really. This creature is so far beyond any of them, more myth and magic than reality, and the plain answer is, they DON'T know, especially given everything they've seen it survive thus far. So, they walk away, assuming the best, but none too sure of themselves, which is refreshing to have the heroes not sure they've succeeded. It's a good turnabout of the trope of heroes being confident in the end that the thing is dead.
Video: All right for a 1990s release. It's not as bad as some other Trisk fare, but I so wish it was better. It just feels so lacking.
Audio: An okay stereo mix, but again, could be better. At least everything sounds good, and is clear. And with the way they breeze through some of the plot, it's a good thing.
Sound Bite: Split Second is one of my favourite quotable movies, and it was tough to trim it down to even just these three.
"I need some coffee. Where the fuck is my coffee?" The moment I fell in love with Detective Harley Stone.
"Excuse me, excuse me, coming through!" "Get out of my fucking way!' The difference between Durkin and Stone summed up in one moment.
"We need bigger guns. Big. Fucking. Guns" The best plan ever.
1 - 8:40 seconds, and our first body is found with its heart ripped out.
2 - Another heartless body is discovered in his home.
3 - A third body drops in their bathroom, but miraculously keeps its heart.
4 & 5 - The Rat Catcher and his buddy get killed off screen by the creature.
6 - Satan himself MIGHT have died thanks to a lot of bullets, an explosion, and having its own heart ripped out
Best Corpse: I'll go with the first body, because we breeze through the rest so quickly.
Blood Type - A: Boy, this movie sure does paint the walls red with blood. And features ripped out hearts pretty heavily. The creature itself also isn't half bad (If a bit derivative), and the only bad effects in the movie are Stone's scars are laughably done.
Sex Appeal: Someone please get poor Michelle out of the shower and onto the set of Sex & the City.
Sights and Sounds: Check out Durkin deciding they need bigger fucking guns to stop Satan! And then trying to explain the insane plot to the chief. He takes it well.
Drink Up! Every time Stone has some coffee, take a drink of your own choosing!
Movie Review: So yeah, I love this movie. It just hits a lot of fun notes, and knows what it is. It knows it's not a brilliant movie, but it's fun, and entertaining, and oh so very late 80s actiony fare. It's plot mixing in crazy Lethal Weapon style cops with mysticism and futuristic settings make it a truly unique setting. The only flaws are that they dump the plot on you really quickly, and with a lot of gobbledygook in the start of the last half hour. The movie really could've used a little more thought and a little more time to smooth out its story, rather than just rushing by it for more crazy shooting. Also, the movie just looks kinda cheap. It looks like sets. The production values are a bit lacking. Finally, the creature is a little bit too Xenomorph, but still has its own unique charm, and manages to stand out on its own JUST enough. None of these damage the movie too much, and if you're willing to go along with a silly scifi horror flick from the 90s, and you kinda know what you're getting from that statement, this movie is a must see. Four out of five half eaten hearts.
Entertainment Value: Have I mentioned I love this movie? It's quotable, it's hilarious, Rutger Hauer is brilliant as Stone, and they manage to give him just enough heart, depending on who he is interacting with. The plot is something that just has not been done too much elsewhere, if anywhere else, on film. The chemistry between Stone and Durkin makes the movie, especially when Durkin falls deep into Stone-ville. You will be laughing at the lines, the characters, and the oh so very 90s-ness of it all. Do yourself a favour and find this movie, somehow. Five out of five bigger fucking guns.