Thursday, April 14, 2011

STRIKING DISTANCE (1993) - Willis, serial killers, and boats

As a huge action movie addict, it's no surprise I'm a big Bruce Willis fan. I think Die Hard might be the best action movie of all time, and most of Willis' other movies are pretty cool too and he's rightly regarded as one of the all-time classic movie tough guys. He beats people senseless, gets hammered drunk, shoots at least twenty guys per movie and always has great one-liners. That being said, I had never heard of Striking Distance before this week. No one ever recommended it to me, I never saw it on T.V., never even saw it on a Blockbuster shelf. So while cruising I saw it listed in Willis' filmography, so I figured, what the hell, it was probably worth a watch and set out to find a copy.

Just cruisin' with pop.
Tom Hardy (Bruce Willis) is a veteran cop with a big problem. He testified in a police brutality case against his partner, who just happens to be his psychotic cousin Jimmy DeTillo (Dennis Farina). Hardy comes from a family of police officers, with his father, uncle and two cousins serving as officers in the Pittsburgh police department. After Jimmy is found guilty of police brutality, every cop in town turns against Tom, considering him a traitor and a rat for selling out one of their own. In midst of all of this, Tom has been investigating a series of grisly murders of young girls by a killer known as the Polish Hill strangler. The investigation is going nowhere, with very few leads, but Tom believes that the killer is definitely a cop because of the way he always manages to stay several steps ahead of the police.

Sarah Jessica Parker is surprisingly hot as a cop. It's the uniform.
Driving to a police function with his father, they respond to an emergency call claiming the Polish Hill serial killer has been spotted. They join the high speed chase of the subject, nearly killing themselves several times and finally end up ramming the killer off the road, smashing both the cars in the process. Tom passes out, and wakes up to find his leg torn to shit and his father dead of a gunshot, with the killer nowhere in sight. After recovering from his injury, he's transferred out of the regular force and sent to the River Rescue unit as punishment for questioning the Polish Hill investigation. Tom is assigned a new partner, Jo Christmas (Sarah Jessica Parker), who he dislikes at first.

Meet Jimmy: Tom's psychotic, police-brutality loving cousin.
It's not long before more bodies start to show up in the river, and now it's apparently become personal, because all of the victims are women that Tom knew in the past. Tom and Jo begin to investigate the murders, and Tom becomes suspicious of Danny DeTillo (Tom Sizemore), his cousin and brother to the dead Jimmy, who dropped out of the force and has a lot of bad blood with Tom. Despite the  fact the police force hates his guts, Tom digs deeper into the murders and begins to doubt the official story about his father's killer, the identity of the Polish Hill serial killer, and the fact that his uncle and cousin might not be all the seem to be.

Little known '90s fact: cars could fly.
Even though Striking Distance might sound like it's got a complicated plot, it really doesn't. The story is pretty predictable, and I guessed the big plot twist near the end really early in the movie. Basic story aside, most of the characters aren't really interesting. Tom is a classic Bruce Willis cop character, with drinking problems, bad relationships with women, etc. Sarah Jessica Parker mostly just fills the love interest role and looks good in her dress or underwear. The villain, who I won't reveal even though the reveal is pretty obvious, isn't that good either. The best parts of the movie are undoubtedly when the action kicks in: the car chases and boat chases are good stuff, really frantic and some slick camera work. Surprisingly, the gun play is kind of low level for a 90s action flick, but what little there is makes up for it. Any music there might have been was totally forgettable.

The classic Bruce Willis shooting face!
Striking Distance is a basic action movie which doesn't even come close to matching the Die Hard series of awesomeness. The plot drags along and there just aren't enough thrills to make up for a weak story and even weaker cast apart from Willis and Sarah Jessica Parker. I enjoyed it, but wouldn't go out of my way to watch it again. It's just not that good.

TL;DR - Tries and fails to match Die Hard's excitement. Not bad, but not good either - 5/10


  1. I'd never even heard of it. I do suddenly fancy watching Die Hard now though.

  2. Haha this sounds like a typical guy movie... :D Followed and supporting.

  3. This movie is really weird. I've seen it on TV a few times and it always seems pretty forgetable. The Kid is a better movie than this...

  4. i wish i live in 90s :D i could fly with my car :D

  5. bruce willis in an b-movie action flick? what's not to like? ;)

  6. I saw this a hella long time ago, gonna try n find a torrent

  7. Sarah Jessica Parker and hot dont really mix together but I will give it a try for Bruce frigging Willis.

  8. MIght skip this one. I like the time period that it was made though. Some great movies come out of that time. I just saw "Demolition Man" with Stenven Segal and Wesley Snipes. That movie is amazing to throw on with a few brews.

  9. Ummmm I know you didn't fall off the face of the Earth..


  10. I'm watching now. Willis has hair.