With the passing of the great Rutger Hauer, I fished out a VHS I’d actually been meaning to revisit for sometime – Tony Maylam’s Split Second from 1992.
In futuristic (2008!) London, Det. Harley Stone (Rutger Hauer) is on the trail of a brutal serial killer that rips out his victim’s hearts.
This was a fun rewatch. I remember when this came out, people were quick to compare it to Blade Runner and Alien, but cumulatively I think its biggest influence may be Predator 2.
Looking up Split Second, I discovered the script had a pretty storied evolution which I won’t regurgitate here, but I was surprised to learn the whole half-submerged London was a late addition. I recall my Dad coming in while I first watched it and asked, “What’s with all the water?”
“Global warming.” I replied.
“Oh,” he said, simply.
It seems like a really costly and cumbersome plot device just for the sake of world building, but I must admit that it worked. In hindsight, I can also see the DNA of the original script in there, as well.
Being on the Deckard side of things a decade later, you could tell Hauer was having a good time with this. I mean his partner’s (Alastair Duncan) name was Dick Durken for Christ’s sake, and they say it SO MUCH. Split Second was just one of the cool action movies Hauer did around this time (Blind Fury, The Blood of Heroes & Deadlock being three others) and he made the most of it. Add on a solid supporting cast in Kim Catrall, Pete Postlethwaite & Michael J. Pollard and you’ve got some real entertainment value here.
The creature was designed by pre-Blade Steve Norrington, but sadly the best look you get of it is on the cover box. In fact, the subway sequence where you really only saw it at all was a re-shoot by Maylam’s late replacement Ian Sharp. I think it looks like a weird cross between Giger’s Alien and Marvel’s Venom.
Split Second is definitely worth a watch, as it comes from an era when there were still mid-budget action flicks that blurred the lines between theatrical and straight-to-video.