Retro Film Review: Striking Distance (1993)


Those who don't like Hitchcock tend to say that he made entire movies around single, most effective scene. In case of Striking Distance, 1993 thriller directed by Rowdy Harrington, the most original and effective scene is actually wasted in the beginning. What follows is rather formulaic plot about Tom Hardy (played by Bruce Willis), Pittsburgh homicide detective and one of the many members of his family who chose police profession. Loyalty towards his colleagues and kin is seriously challenged when he starts investigating the case of a serial killer and finds out that the perpetrator might be policeman. But this is not the end of his problems - first, his own father (played by John Mahoney) becomes one of the killer's victims, and later on, his colleague and cousin Jimmy (played by Robert Pastorelli) commits suicide after being accused for brutality because of Hardy's testimony. The informing on colleagues is unforgivable crime for policemen and Hardy is transferred to the River Rescue service. Two years later, he is embittered alcoholic, but the new wave of killings would make him re-start investigation, this time with the help of partner Jo Christman (played by Sarah Jessica Parker).

Striking Distance is rather forgettable film, which shouldn't surprise anyone, because the script, written by Rowdy Harrington and Martin Kaplan, is so full of cliches and predictable plot twists, that the film itself is hardly distinguishable from hundreds of similar products produced by Hollywood in that era. The only difference might be found in the setting - city of Pittsburgh is something like a refreshment for all those viewers who are tired of seeing all crime thrillers set in Los Angeles, New York or, in case they got lucky, New Orleans or Chicago. However, city in question was probably chosen because of being situated on three rivers, which allowed Herrington to direct many and endless chases including speedboats. Some of those action scenes work, and some don' - in any case, they hardly justify a whole bunch of formulaic subplots and wooden characters. The acting is mostly fine - whole bunch of capable character actors like John Mahoney, Dennis Farina, Andre Braugher or Brion James do their best to rise above mediocre script. The lead actor, Bruce Willis, was probably in one of the worst periods of his career – post-Hudson Hawk and before Pulp Fiction - so his character, although still being wise-cracking self, is hardly memorable. Another disservice to him is done with pairing his character to the token female in the form of Sarah Jessica Parker, good actor totally unsuitable for the role and romantic pairing with zero chemistry. All in all, Striking Distance is movie unworthy of attention, made watchable only by rather sad collection of great acting talents who had deserved much better film.

RATING: 3/10 (+)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on June 5th 1999)


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