Sunday, June 18, 2017

Split Second

Split Second (1992)

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Shout out to Jack from the Rogue Riffers Podcast for sending me this movie.

Split Second is about a weary police officer (Rutger Hauer) trying to solve a mysterious string of murders in a post-global warming sci-fi nightmare.

This follows the sci-fi noir aesthetic a la Bladerunner, complete with pollution causing it to be always nighttime, and throws in some spikey leather clad BDSM strippers for good measure. The look is sort of inconsistent, though, with the majority of the characters dressing like regular people and nothing really special about the set design.

The first half of the movie feels a lot like the Ian Rankin novel I read one time - there are some spectacularly grizzly murders that have some connection to Rutger Hauer's past, and there's some half assed hinting that maybe he is the murderer that doesn't actually go anywhere. There's a little bit of sci-fi stuff thrown in there, like there's always water on the streets, and there's big ass rats running around everywhere, but that could also describe Halifax on a particularly rainy day.

According to Rutger Hauer's new partner (Neil Duncan), the murders are connected to astrology, the lunar cycle, and the Chinese zodiac, thus the killer believes themself to be some kind of supernatural being is eating their victims hearts to gain their souls or whatever.

The movie tries to be a buddy cop movie for a little bit, but Rutger Hauer's character is a narcissistic assbag, and Neil Duncan's character is an unapologetic weiner so I didn't really care if either one of them lived or died or got along or didn't so who gives a fuck.

Furthermore, Rutger Hauer has zero chemistry with Neil Duncan. Or with Kim Cattrall, who's supposed to be his love interest, to the point that scenes between the two of them are borderline gross. Or with me, the viewer. That really upped the don't-give-a-fuck factor.

The movie also tries to be funny at times but between American-style humour and British-style humour not getting along, and the painful, cardboard performances, it just falls flat on its ass. Like, Rutger Hauer is a fucking good actor. I watched this movie mostly because I had a crush on the guy (which is cured now, thank you very much), and he's done some truly great performances. In this movie, his line delivery is so fucking bad it makes me wonder if a) he didn't give a sweet fuck about this movie, or b) he's actually not a good actor, he just had good direction in other movies. That's how bad it was.

It also tries to be a science fiction movie, but there isn't really any point for setting it after the global ice caps have melted except maaaaybe to hop on the eco-horror bandwagon. Except they didn't really draw any stronger of a connection between the monster and global warming than they did to the monster and the signs of the zodiac. And really, would the monster have any idea what the zodiac is? It lives in a sewer. I feel like that's the product of sloppy rewrites to change this from a slow ass murder mystery to a horror movie. Like, actually more than anything this movie reminds me of an only marginally better Shocking Dark.

Ultimately, this movie tries to be like four different kinds of movie (sci-fi mystery, buddy-cop, action-comedy, and eco-horror) and fails miserably at all of them.

About half way through it starts to get mildly interesting (and almost justifies its sci-fi setting) by announcing that the killer has recombinant DNA containing fragments from rats, Rutger Hauer, and their other victims. At this point I'm like "hell yeah, weird mutant sewer monster" but it takes like another half an hour for anything to come of that revelation and by that point it's kind of a let down.

So, we've got this monster, right, and it lives in the sewers and eats peoples hearts so it can assimilate their DNA because of astrology somehow, and also it's drawing maps on its victims to guide Rutger Hauer into the sewer, and also using Kim Cattrall as bait for some fucking reason, because it killed his partner and it really wants to kill him but anytime it has the chance it kills somebody else. At what point did the writers realize they had no fucking idea what this monster was? I guarantee it was a long time before I did. I mean, I said "what the fuck am I watching" at least six times during this movie but that was because of the unfocused plot and genre-hopping, not because of the lame, unfocused monster.

And when we finally do get to the final battle with the monster, it's literally just Alien but not as cool. It even says on the cover for this movie "Bladerunner meets Alien" just to hammer home that it's a blatant rip-off of two better movies that I would much rather be watching.

- Rutger Hauer's leather pants (+1)
- Sexy BDSM future (+1)
- Pete Postlethwaite! (+1)
- Chocolate (+1)
- Spectacularly grizzly murders (+1)
Total: (+5)

- I was tricked into watching a murder mystery (-1)
- Astrology (-3)
- The main character's name is Harley Stone. That's the worst sci-fi protagonist name since fucking Hell Tanner (-1)
- And - and - he has Harley Davidson decals in his fucking bathroom like a fucking weirdo what the fuck who does that (-1)
- Don't-give-a-fuck Factor (-1)
- "I'm bored" Factor (-1)
- Monster is a shameless Alien rip-off (-1)
Total: (-9)
Final Score: -4 stars

Directed by: Tony Maylam.  Written by: Gary Scott Thompson.  Starring: Rutger Hauer, Neil Duncan, Kim Cattrall, Michael J. Pollard, Pete Postlethwaite, Alun Armstrong, Ian Dury.

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