film & game reviews, the retro way.
Gary Scott Thompson
Michael J. Pollard
A UK/US co-production, Split Second is a sci-fi thriller from 1992 starring Rutger Hauer as a tough, moody cop who hunts down a serial killer in a flooded, dystopian London. The film was a commercial flop and it was not particularly well received by critics either.
Set in the rain-drenched future of... 2008, after multiple environmental disasters caused by global warming, Split Second may seem like a cheesy B-movie on paper and, you know what? That's exactly what it is. Rutger Hauer plays it cool as Harley Stone, the leather-clad burnt-out cop who smokes cigars, shoots big guns and lives in a filthy apartment. He brings some welcome charisma to an otherwise rather shapeless and bland film.
Wisely, Split Second doesn't take itself too seriously, probably since the script went through quite a few changes during the production including one draft that was closer to a buddy-cop comedy. In fact, the tongue-in-cheek dynamic between Harley and his partner, uptight rookie Dick Durkin (Alastair Neil Duncan), helps make the film more fun than it would have been without it. Kim Cattrall plays Michelle, Harley's girlfriend. She later gets kidnapped by the killer who, they soon start to suspect, might not exactly be human.
The poster may have tried to sell the film as "Blade Runner Meets Alien" but this is a hilariously generous over-statement. This is nothing more than your usual cop movie where people are getting killed in brutal ways and a mismatched cop duo try to figure out what's going on, except it's set in London in the near-future and has a monster in it. Said monster feels tacked-on, like it was thrown in at the last minute, because it was. This is frankly a shame since the film hints at an interesting twist but doesn't really get into it, likely because there just wasn't much time to re-write another draft of the script this late in the game.
The idea that Harley's old partner, who was thought to have been killed by the creature years prior, could have in fact himself mutated into the creature thereby making him the killer all along, would have been worth exploring a bit more but the film fails to make the most of that potential twist. Instead, the admittedly cool-looking monster, deserving of a lot more screen time, shows up right at the end and everything is wrapped up pretty quickly in a disappointing anti-climax.
While Rutger Hauer is always good value and the film has its moments, including some solid practical effects and a likeable sense of humour, Split Second is too shallow, derivative and slow-paced to really grab you as a murder mystery or an action thriller.