Split Second – Blu-Ray Review

Split Second is a film with Rutger Hauer, made very much in the wake of Blade Runner, so much so that the screenwriter (Gary Scott Thompson) had actually written the part for Harrison Ford. Hauer plays a very Blade Runner-esque homicide detective in 2008 London. Global warming has flooded all of London (as it will at some point eventually). Initially it was set in Los Angeles—it was a spec script for Thompson that got him work. Thompson has had a very lucrative career, because later on he wrote the first The Fast and the Furious film.

The story has a slight monster movie element to it—Harley Stone (Hauer) is on the hunt for what they perceive to be a serial killer. He’s joined by Dick Durkin, a bookish British guy played by Alastair Neil Duncan, who his higher-ups force on him. Stone works alone, and that creates a conflict between them. It’s kind of similar to the Richard Stanley film Hardware, which came out around the same time—a low-budget noirish science fiction in which everyone looks like they belong in a goth club.

The big confrontation with who or what they are after happens down in the Tube. It’s got some very silly dialogue. When the big reveal comes, it seems like they ripped off the character of Venom from Marvel Comics.

Hauer is fine, and Ian Dury appears in it as well as the nightclub owner, which is a fun bit of his short-lived acting career. There’s a kind of love interest with Kim Cattrall, back in her pre-Sex in the City days, when she was still doing more genre stuff, but you won’t buy it at all. Pete Postlethwaite plays Stone’s commanding officer and seems to be having a good time.

You can definitely tell the film had some production issues. It was rewritten constantly while they were shooting, which is usually not a good thing. They even got a Wendy Carlos score, which would have added to the film a bit, but in the end they didn’t use it. But if you like late 80s/early 90s, sub-Blade Runner sci fi/horror stuff, you’re going to enjoy it. It even has a kind of buddy-cop angle, although it probably would have been better if they had just stuck with the detective guy.

There’s a bunch of extras on it. 101 Films previously released the film on Blu-Ray in 2015, but that only had the deleted scenes that had been added to a Japanese version of Split Second. This version includes the Japanese cut which is in SD, on the bonus disc. There is a commentary track with film historian Mike Leeder and Arne Venema on the international cut, which is the version most people will have seen, and the usual interviews with mainly crew members, plus some archival making-of featurettes, various trailers and TV clips. In the documentary on the film, Alastair Neil Duncan is also interviewed. There is also a booklet with an essay on how the film was made and another on Rutger Hauer as an unlikely action star.

★★★½

Ian Schultz

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