Thursday, 21 April 2011

Split Second (1992)

Until I mentioned to friends on Facebook that I was rewatching the Rutger Hauer b-movie epic Split second, I really had no idea just how many people loved the hell out of this flick. It’s a superb bit of cyberpunk/horror/action trash, and the cast alone (featuring, amongst many others, Kim Cattrall, Pete Postlethwaite, Ian Dury and many more alongside Hauer) is enough to raise a curious eyebrow. The film itself is a loud, obnoxious, violent and gleefully tacky sci-fi actioner following the badass cop Stone (Hauer on top form as your typical futuristic antihero) who is on the trail of a brutal murderer in a stylized vision of 2008. Man, I wish 2008 had been this awesome.

Mixing the visual motifs of Blade Runner, Brazil and the Terminator into an action movie that soon turns into a sci-fi monster story, Split Second is relentlessly entertaining and hugely quotable. That’s not to try and fool you into thinking it has any depth or a remotely decent script. It’s cheesy in the extreme, but we’re not here to talk about good cinema are we? We’re here to talk about those films that are a little bit too odd for mainstream audiences, and Split Second is certainly an odd creature with its schizophrenic structure.
It never seems to settle on one genre, direction or theme, and add to this the fact it was shot here in England with a largely English cast (but American leads) and the film comes across as disjointed and slapdash. The thing is, for some bizarre reason it works really damn well. The plot is grisly enough to keep you entertained, and the script has enough comedy value to keep you chuckling. My own personal favourite exchange has to be:

Durkin: "I don't think this thing thinks it's Satan. I say it IS Satan." Stone: "Yeah? Well Satan's in deep shit!!!"

With dialogue like that, it’s impossible not to like the film. Rutger Hauer’s cranky, rat-shooting Stone lives on coffee, chocolate and swearing, and all of them are consumed and talked about at length inbetween gunfights and chase scenes. Kim Cattrall isn’t given a huge amount to do, but the film is infinitely more enjoyable than even the briefest clip of Sex and the City, for which she is mostly known for now. Hell, have these people never seen her infamous “Woooooooooo!!!!!” scene in Porky’s?!
But I digress. For a film of its kind, Split Second is extremely well shot and tightly directed by Tony Maylam, even though it plays essentially like a greatest hits package of ideas from other films. It’s certainly above average in terms of quality, but there will be those amongst us – like me and you- that love it dearly for all of its tacky charms. Split Second is a wonderful way to spend 90 minutes if you are a fan of dark Sci-Fi from the golden era of straight-to-video awesomeness. If you’re not, then keep this thing away from your TV at all costs. Let the rest of us enjoy its many delights in peace.

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