a critiQal film review Striking Distance (1993)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Tom Hardy (Willis) is a maverick cop who's not afraid to rock the boat in pursuit of a sadistic serial killer. Demoted to river patrol after suggesting the killer may be a fellow police officer, he initiates an unauthorized investigation. His new partner (Parker) climbs aboard with a surprise of her own as the conspiracy closes around them - a conspiracy which puts Hardy as the prime suspect when the serial killings restart after years of inactivity.

662 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 18s)

Our recent subscription to NetFlix® is giving us a chance to review some older titles, since we are able to watch them instantly on our TV without having to wait for a DVD in the mail. Up next: Striking Distance, starring Bruce Willis and Sarah Jessica Parker.

I remembered seeing this film years ago, but couldn’t remember much about it. Something about Bruce Willis and his partner Sarah Jessica Parker as water cops. Since I couldn’t remember much more than that, I figured I’d give it a shot. Would this be another action-packed flick from Mr. Die Hard (1988) himself, or is there a reason this isn’t part of my movie collection already?

The cast has quite a few notable names. First among those, of course, is Bruce Willis. Still fighting a losing battle with his hair at this point (and not yet clean shaven), he does a decent enough job in his role. While other action heroes like Schwarzenegger and Seagal were usually known for playing the no-flaws hero, Willis was much better at playing Mr. Everyman. Usually with a cop background, his hero wasn’t without his flaws, and was usually outgunned and overpowered. While muscles usually came in handy once the action moved to one-on-one, his characters survived mostly by their wits and brains rather than their brawn. That same formula works for him again in Striking Distance. Unfortunately, his brain doesn’t play as big a role this time around, and viewers are given more of a bare-bones McClane figure than they might want.

Sarah Jessica Parker, known more for Sex and the City (2008) these days than anything else, tries her hand at action with Striking Distance, and it’s not quite a perfect fit. While she may have honed her drama skills later on, she comes across as weak and silly in this film, even during pivotal sequences. While a lot of that may be chalked up to her simplistic role (despite an attempt to give her character more depth, she’s mostly around to be the stereotypical love interest), her acting in those pivotal sequences is shaky at best.

The rest of the cast is filled out with some well-known movie names (Dennis Farina, Tom Sizemore) and some popular TV names as well (John Mahoney, of “Frasier” (TV) and Robert Pastorelli of “Murphy Brown” (TV)). While the film makes short shrift of their characters, they do a decent job with what they’re given, and strive to involve the viewer. Even if it doesn’t work quite as often as viewers hope, they should still be recognized for their effort.

The biggest flaw with Striking Distance is the plot. While the plot seems somewhat simplistic at first, the explanation of the plot takes up a lot of the film’s time – especially in the overly long introduction. By the time the film reaches the present, the viewer is a bit perplexed as to why so much time was spent involved in the basic setup – and how little time is left for the body of the film. The film would have been greatly improved without such a long set-up, and viewers would have been much happier because of it.

Striking Distance is an action flick trying to masquerade as a mind-bending thriller. Unfortunately, the plot has enough holes it’s easy enough to see most of the twists and turns coming a mile away. Sure, the film does toss in a surprise or two, but when those surprises turn out to lead nowhere, there’s no real reason to put them in there in the first place.

With an easy-to-guess “whodunit” theme, Striking Distance tries to take itself too seriously – but you shouldn’t. If you’re looking for another adrenaline-pumping actioneer like Die Hard (1988) or a mind-bending thriller like The Game, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

If you’re just looking for a couple of fun action sequences and a chance to see Bruce Willis beat someone up, Striking Distance won’t be as much of a disappointment.

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