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Split Second Reviews

In the grimly polluted future of SPLIT SECOND, an ill-matched pair of police detectives play a game of cat-and-mouse with a nonhuman killer. Besides portraying London as a cross between Calcutta and the south Bronx, writer Gary Scott Thompson adds a dollop of humor by teaming a tough cop with a stuffy Oxonian. Clad in non-regulation black leather, Harley Stone (Rutger Hauer) seems perennially on the verge of dismissal from the metropolitan police. Obsessed with the peculiar murder of his partner years ago, he carries not only the physical, but the psychic scars of an encounter with the killer; Stone can sense when the miscreant is near. Following his hunch to a striptease bar, Stone is a few seconds too late to save a young blonde from having her chest cavity exposed and her heart actually torn out. There is also a note to Stone from the butcher smeared in blood on the bathroom mirror. At the frantically crowded police headquarters, Stone is introduced to his new partner, Dick Durkin (Neil Duncan) by an angry chief. As if in answer to the latter's complaint about Stone's habit of packing too many weapons, a refrigerator box arrives containing the victim's heart, with a nasty-looking bite taken out of it. Durkin, in jacket with school tie and glasses, contrasts wildy with the violent Stone, who seems to thrive on a diet of sweet coffee and donuts. (Oddly, no one seems to question Stone's half-American accent or what he does as a detective between searches for the mysterious serial killer.) Barely tolerated by Stone, who teases him, Durkin begins to earn the more experienced man's respect when he recognizes the occult nature of the bloody graffiti smeared on the ceiling of victim number two, a male with the missing tell-tale organ. Stone then reveals that their prey may be something more than a human psychotic, since the plaster cast from the bite reveals teeth as long as most people's fingers. Besides its dental talent, the creature soon reveals a few other skills as well. It steals a shotgun from a police car and manages to keep Stone and Durkin at bay despite their fusillade. The beast also leaves its bite on the shoulder of Michelle (Kim Cattrall), an old girlfriend and apparently another Yank in England. Although they are too slow to save victim number three, Durkin and Stone eventually realize that they prevented the removal of her heart, so they race to the police morgue just in time to catch a glimpse of their eight-foot tall opponent, who escapes by literally crashing through a steel door. In a frankly amusing scene, the two detectives requisition enough guns to knock out a tank from the police armory while the stuffy quartermaster stares in shock. Now cursing as freely as Stone, Durkin the public-school boy copies his taste for sweets and coffee. There is also some discussion of the bloody graffiti and whether the heart-ripper is simply evil or "The Evil One" incarnate. Whatever the beast may be, it is not stupid and rather easily separates Durkin from Stone and Stone from Michelle. She is soon abducted, but our toothsome beast has left a hint in the form of occult symbols carved onto an unconscious Durkin's chest. The two humans decipher the marks and return to the flooded London underground station where Stone had lost his earlier partner (as seen in flashback). They find Michelle, and the imposing antagonist finds them. In the battle that follows we finally get a good look at the demon and guage the amount of firepower it takes for Stone to finish it off. Very fast-paced, SPLIT SECOND is an example of the men-versus-monster genre, with a British setting providing a fresh twist. The film's speed drowns any questions an audience may have about the presence of so many Americans in London, or the apparent lack of interest by the whole police force in a creature that can crash through its mortuary's steel door. Revealed as amphibious, the eight-foot monster seems to move around as quickly and quietly as a mouse. The scaly creature shares a dental scheme with the nemesis in Ridley Scott's ALIEN, but its origins are never explained, except for a generalized concern over global warming and pollution. (Violence, profanity, nudity.)