Occasionally a film loses it mind, tries to do too much, and ends up a better movie because of it. Split Second adds futuristic angst, serial killer cat-and-mouse games, and an Alien-inspired creature to the familiar buddy cop film. Instead of wrestling with these elements, the film gleefully lets each genre free to run wild.
Rutger Hauer stars as Harley Stone, a hard-boiled detective with a dead partner to avenge in the “future” of 2008 (Split Second was released in 1992). The murderer returns to add to its death toll, and it isn’t human. Kim Cattrall makes a pre-Sex in the City appearance, and Hauer and his partner (Neil Duncan), to no one’s surprise, become friends and head into a showdown with the murderous monster.
Hauer is a gifted actor who can out-menace anyone as a tough guy, and then tone down his performance with light humor when necessary. Harley Stone is a hard, cynical anti-hero, but Hauer keeps enough smirk in his swagger to avoid self-parody.
Split Second’s set design and pacing keep the mood cool and menacing, and for two thirds of the film they create an unusual tension between an all-too-human detective and an unknowable creature on a serial murder spree. The film builds to a rousing and funny scene where Stone and his partner load up with the biggest guns they can find ( a highlight of the film), and then the film can’t keep up with itself any longer. The Alien-inspired monster looks too derivative and rubbery to pay off all of the tension, and the actual battle is over too quickly.
Had Split Second delivered on the promise of its pacing and lead actor’s performance, it would be a four Teddy movie instantly familiar to any genre fan. It manages three and a half Teddys as it is, and the ride is well worth the price of a ticket.