Split Second (1992) Review

The year is 2008 and London has become a water filled nightmare. As global warming raises the level of the Thames, whole areas of the city are flooded. Smog hangs in the air, rats infest everything and the plague has returned causing chaos and confusion among the remaining populace.

Added to all this a crazed killer has returned and is currently on the loose ripping out its victims hearts. The gruesome murders attract the attention of grizzled and cynical homicide detective Harley Stone (Blade Runner’s Rutger Hauer) who is convinced the serial killer is the same one that slayed his partner three years ago.

Already close to the edge, the chief assigns by the numbers rookie Dick Durkin (Alastair Duncan) to be Stone’s new partner and try to keep him in line. The unlikely pairing begin to delve deeper into the murderer’s MO and discover strange connections to the supernatural, leading them to question if the killer is human or something far more frightening.

Smashing together post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi, serial killer police action and demonic horror Split Second is an entertainingly insane creation that cult movie lovers will devour quicker than Satan eating a rat sandwich.

At the centre of the eclectic genre anarchy is the legendary Rutger Hauer, playing Stone a man who “lives on anxiety, coffee and chocolate” literally, throughout the film. Shouting, crying, punching and shooting alternately, Hauer is a joy to behold and the character is so watchable it is almost a shame he never go to return to the role.

A far more talented actor than he is often credited to be, in Hauer’s hands this unbelievable walking trope somehow becomes a three dimensional figure that we actually root for. His guilt and emotional pain is palpable due to the fact that he was having an affair with his partner’s lady, played by Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall, when he was killed. Her return reopens old wounds pushing him closer to a mental breakdown yet offering him something to fight for against the impending darkness.

Though set in a fucked-up future London, the script uses every cop movie cliché in the book – and there are plenty – for international and unintentional glee to be had watching Hauer yell at and threaten his uptight partner and weary co-workers which include a catalogue of British talent from Sleepy Hollows Alun Armstrong to Usual Suspects star Pete Postlethwaite and a very young Jason Watkins better known from Being Human and The Crown.

Surprisingly, the sets and locations are amazingly well-realised and very original. Fully creating the urban water world of London 2008, the exteriors are damp, decaying and filled with water, pigeons and rats while the interiors evoke 1984 with grey oppressive uniformity and government posters on the latest health scares. Police jeeps and hovercrafts speed and splash through the streets while underground S&M clubs drip with sweat and blood all of which firmly places the audience in the films sodden and solemn future.

The prop and effects design is on point with a ton of future weapons at the duo’s disposal demonstrated in a particularly amusing scene where Durkin repetitively demands “bigger guns.” The gore is also nicely done and director Tony Maylam does a good job confining the monstrous murderer to the shadows offering up flashes rather than a full reveal even in the climactic underground final showdown, a good idea seeing as it look a lot like H.R. Giger Alien in a motorcycle helmet.

Looking great 101 Films newly restored Blu-ray is drenched with extras including Audio Commentary, new interviews, the original 1992 Split Second “Making of” featurette and the Japanese Cut which contains deleted scenes.

Highly enjoyable especially if you don’t take it too seriously, Split Second offers up a ton of horror and police clichés placed into a highly original and well done future world, all aided by some solid performances. Get set to get wet and take some time out to watch Split Second.

Movie Rating: ★★★★☆ 

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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