Action Heroes – Willis: Striking Distance

Brucie had a bit of an uneven time in the early to mid 90s. But for me being in my teens at the time I lapped most of it up without complaint. The Last Boy Scout rocked. Hell, even Colour of Night was passable for me. This one, Striking Distance was no different. A cop thriller which sees our Bruce relegated to water duties after the suicide of a partner he was testifying against in a court of law.

We find him lumbered with a new partner (Sarah Jessica Parker – just boringly bad) and finding dead bodies in the water who turn out to be former beaus of Bruce.  Yes, someone’s getting all personal on him, and the cops around him aren’t doing a hell of a lot to help out. Among these are a rather disgruntled father of the film’s suicide cop, played by veteran Denis Farina. There’s his other son, Tom Sizemore, who shows up, a drunk, with “red herring” plastered all over him. And then there’s the sparring between Willis’ river rat and Bryon James’ groundhog cop (some of which is actually pretty funny and ends on a great punchline (literally) at the film’s climax).

Director Rowdy Herrington was responsible for Swayze pleaser Road House. Here he cuts the film’s action well, despite much of the plot not having anything new to offer us. Sometimes it can be a bit confusing as well as some characters aren’t properly addressed.  It took a couple of viewings before I realised the last victim he finds outside his own boat was the girl on the telecom prompter from his office. There’s also confusion in that in one scene we get a veteran genre actor, Tom Atkins, as a family member. He says a few hellos and then promptly fucks off again. Talk about pointless-role-for-a-name actor.

Anyway, when Bruce (yeah, I know the character is called Hardy) finally comes face to face with his still living former partner (Robert Pastorelli) we’re a little unsure what to expect. This big fat Italian guy starts giving the films worst and most OTT performance (in much the same way that he did in Schwarzenegger’s Eraser a few years later, as a guy he helps out at the start). The dialogue is of the poorest kind as we watch his character have a meltdown in front of his three intended victims (Willis, Parker and Sizemore) bellowing “Who’s the best cop?” about himself. Then of course daddy shows up and the violence erupts. Daddy takes a shot and Sizemore gets knocked to the sidelines (as usual, like in Lock Up). Parker seems to scream a bit as apparently she isn’t very good at her job. All of which leaves Willis to pursue the bad guy by boat then land, then over the rail tracks and then back into the water again.

It’s satisfying that after an initial struggle the bad guy comes back out the water to attack Willis with a tazer. Our Bruce promptly grabs it from him and shoves both that and the bad guys words “Who’s the best cop now?” down his throat. It’s a pleasing moment, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow.

Steven Hurst

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