From the Archive – Split Second (1992)



Directed by Tony Maylam and Ian Sharp
Starring Rutger Hauer, Neil Duncan and Kim Catrall

Maverick US cop Holly Stone (Hauer), assigned to the Metropolitan Police Force in a flooded London, plagued by huge sewer rats, is haunted by the death of his partner and the serial killer he never caught. When he believes the killer has returned, he is partnered with clean cut, tight-buttoned, Oxford psych graduate Detective Dick Durkin (Duncan) to catch the man. Thing is, as hearts with giant tooth-prints in them start being delivered to the Police Station full of British character actors, it looks increasingly as though the killer is not a man at all. 

With time running out, and the late partner’s widow, Michelle (Catrall) – also Stone’s ex-lover – complicating things, the two mismatched plods must conquer their mutual antagonism, load up on caffeine, sugar, and really big fucking guns, and go down into the flooded Underground to kill the beast that would be Satan.

What’s wrong with it?

Well, Oscar-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Rutger Hauer for a start, acting as wooden as ever he does in English, bless him. Also Kim Catrall; much the same, but without the stellar career in the Dutch legitimate film industry. The plot is a little spotty, and the big monster isn’t really explained at any point (unless it is Satan).

What’s right with it?

The transformation of the buttoned-down Durkin into a highly-caffeinated bundle of neuroses like Stone is a joy to behold. The film is sharp and funny, and the support playing – by the usual pack of British character actors, including an about to be famous Pete Postelthwaite – is actually really good.

There are also big f*@king guns.

How bad is it really?

If you don’t own this film, you should buy it. Seriously. It’s trash, but it’s just so good.

Best bit?

Where to start? There’s the hysterical Superintendent (Alun Armstrong) asking if they want an APB put out on Lucifer, or Dick Durkin trying to shoot the rat with an assault shotgun (“You shot my kitchen, that’s what!”).

Or there’s this exchange:
“I’m surprised you don’t have a grenade launcher.”
“Couldn’t get a permit.”

But ultimately, the prize must belong to the “we need bigger f*@king guns” scene, as our heroes get hyper on coffee and chocolate and tool up for a showdown with evil.
“Now, we get bigger guns.”

What’s up with…?

  • The DNA-stealing, seven-foot tall, bullet proof, psychic, heart-eating, soul-stealing, metal-shredding thing? I mean, really?
  • Knights in White Satin? Not just why is it in this film; why is it? What’s up with it? It’s a weird song.


Production Values – Actually pretty shiny, if not too excessive. The monster just looks like a guy in a big rubber suit, but isn’t on display too much. 8

Dialogue and Performances – The dialogue is actually pretty snappy. Hauer and Catrall both have the delivery of a cricket bat, but for what it’s worth, Catrall give a career best, and Hauer only tops this performance (in English) with Blade Runner. Neil Duncan really steals the show as Detective Dick “That wasn’t a him, that was a f*@king it!” Durkin, closely followed by Alun Armstrong’s harried commissioner. 7

Plot and Execution – Better than most by a considerable margin, although the direction does tend a little towards the dark and invisible. 11

Randomness – Enough that the film stops making sense about half-way through, but also the right kind that you stop caring at pretty much the same point. 10

Waste of Potential – Hell no. This is – without question – the single best film ever made about angry, hyperactive cops chasing a giant, Satanic rat-mutant that has been terrorising a flooded London in the aftermath of global warming. 0

Overall 35%


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