STRIKING DISTANCE (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
June 17, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“At first glance, ‘STRIKING DISTANCE’ appears to be quite predictable but you start to learn that this mystery, thriller is anything but. Featuring an intriguing, fast-paced storyline… ‘STRIKING DISTANCE’ is an enjoyable popcorn flick!”
TITLE: STRIKING DISTANCE
DURATION: 102 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, French, Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish
RATED: R (For Violence, Strong Language and a Sex Scene)
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2009
Directed by Rowdy Herrington
Screenplay by Rowdy Herrington and Marty Kaplan
Executive Producer: Steven Reuther
Produced by Hunt Lowry, Arnon Milchan, Tony Thomopoulos
Co-Producer: Carmine Zozzora
Associate Producer: Martin Kaplan
Music by Brad Fiedel
Director of Photography: Mac Ahlberg
Editing by Pasquale Buba, Mark Helfrich
Casting by Pam Dixon
Production Design by Gregg Fonseca
Art Direction by Bruce Alan Miller
Set Decoration by Jay Hart
Costume Design by Betsy Cox
Bruce Willis as Det. Tom Hardy
Sarah Jessica Parker as Jo Christman
Dennis Farina as Capt. Nick Detillo
Tom Sizemore as Det. Danny Detillo
Brion James as Det. Eddie Eiler
Robert Pastorelli as Det. Jim Detillo
John Mahoney as Lt. Vince Hardy
Timothy Busfield as Tony Sacco
Andre Braugher as Dist. Atty. Frank Morris
In Sept. 1993, a suspenseful thriller starring action star Bruce Willis (“Die Hard”, “The Fifth Element”, “The Sixth Sense) and actress Sarah Jessica Parker (“Sex and the City”, “Ed Wood”, “L.A. Story”) was released in theaters.
The film was directed by Rowdy Herrington (“Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius” and “The Stickup”) and a screenplay co-written by Herrington and Marty Kaplan (“Max Q” and “The Distinguished Gentleman”). The film would feature music by Brad Fiedel (“Johnny Mnemonic”, “Timecop” and “True Lies”) and cinematographer Mac Ahlberg (“Good Burger”, “Ragdoll”, “The Brady Bunch Movie” and “Beverly Hills Cop III”).
“STRIKING DISTANCE” revolves around a Pittsburgh police officer named Tom Hardy who worked on homicide. He comes from a family of five generations of police officers and rats out his partner Det. Jimmy Detillo (Robert Pastorelli). This has caused friction amongst Hardy and all the police officers with the exception of his family and his father, Lt. Vince Hardy (John Mahoney).
His father tells him that he did the right thing and tries to support his son. Tom has had some difficulties, aside from him ratting out his partner and difficulties within the force, there is a serial killer that has killed a woman that was close to him.
Immediately, the two receive a call that police are chasing the suspect and a big chase scene takes place. But somehow this person manages to thwart their every move of capture. Immediately, Tom says that the way the person drives, he must be a cop.
While on the pursuit and the suspect escaping the police at every opportunity of capture, both Hardy’s are the only ones left on pursuit and manage to shoot the suspect’s tires. Both end up going over a hill and crashing. Next thing you know, Tom wakes up to find out that the suspect has escaped and his father was killed by the suspect.
Not long after, while Tom goes on the trial for his partner, his uncle Capt. Nick Detillo tells him that they captured a suspect. The suspect appears to be a short man who says he didn’t do it but a witness places him in the scene with a body. Tom does not believe it one bit that this man is the serial killer and is even capable of lifting the bodies and throwing them in a river.
And Tom insists that the killer must be a police officer. Those words will be the final words he would say as a police officer. After the court case, he finds out that his former partner and friend Det. Jimmy Detillo is threatening to kill himself and about to jump the bridge. Both Jimmy’s father Nick and Det. Danny Detillo (Tom Sizemore) try to stop him from jumping and even Tom tries his best to grab his hand but Jimmy who is distraught over his partner ratting on him and ruining his career, jumps off the bridge and kills himself. Danny blames his former friend Tom for the death of his brother.
Two years later, he is now working as an officer for the River Rescue. Because of his belligerence at his new job and not getting along with his partner, he is assigned a new partner named Jo Christman (Sarah Jessica Parker). Two years later, Danny comes back to Pittsburgh and apologizes to Tom about what happened on the bridge and for blaming him for his brother’s death.
All seems to be going OK with Tom until a body is found in the river. We then see a nurse walking into the parking lot and a stun gun was used on her. Tom receives a call with a woman crying and we see an image of a remote control police car riding on the floor. The woman is killed and the phone call is cut off.
Tom knows that the serial killer is back and he is taunting him and to make things worse, the woman is the second person that was very close to Tom and Tom knows that the killer is trying to get close to him.
Tom wants some answers and wants to catch the serial killer but with his new by-the-rules partner, will she rat him out for his un-policeman like conduct?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
For a film released in 1993, I’m going to be truthful, I was expecting a film that was going to be heavily DNR’d (Digital Noise Reduction) and look soft with less detail. This was not the case, “STRIKING DISTANCE” which received its first 1080p High Definition transfer (1:85:1 aspect ratio) looks absolutely beautiful on Blu-ray. Outdoor scenes with sunlight and multiple colors look vibrant, you can see skin tones quite well, blacks are nice and deep and blues are nice and beautiful. Also, grain is present and captures that film-like quality.
Equally impressive was the audio soundtrack for the film. The film is presented in English, French and Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (and Spanish 5.1) and from the opening scenes, there is good use of the rear surrounds during the car chase scene and also gun shots. In fact, some scenes I detected usage of LFE which was nice.
Is it as immersive as today’s modern action films? The answer is no. But considering the age of the film, I was happy to hear a nice clean dialogue but also special effects coming nice and clear through the front channels and my surrounds.
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
There are no special features but trailers for upcoming Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases. The Blu-ray disc is BD-Live Enabled.
“STRIKING DISTANCE” was an enjoyable, suspenseful thriller. Back in 1993, Bruce Willis who had such a wonderful rise to fame with both “Die Hard” films returned with several action films that people either loved or hated. From “Hudson Hawk”, “The Last Boyscout” and even his lighthearted roles as the voice for films such as “Look Who’s Talking” and his role as David Addison on the popular TV show “Moonlighting” was still fresh on the minds of many people who enjoyed his work.
Personally, I felt that Bruce Willis is an “everyman”, an actor who can play a variety of roles in his career (which he has demonstrated quite well in the last 25 years) but around that time, many people were basing everything that he did and comparing it with “Die Hard”.
“STRIKING DISTANCE” is no die hard. Bruce Willis may be playing a cop and he may go a bit gung ho at times but his character as Tom Hardy is scarred. From the death of his father and women he was romantically with, having to wear a brace on his leg and so he is not exactly mobile. The character is flawed but for me, that’s what made his character so appealing.
Sarah Jessica Parker (many years before “Sex and the City” made her a huge star) was an actress that caught our attention in the 1991 romantic comedy “L.A. Story” but previous to that, most of us connected through Parker from her role in the 80’s show “Square Pegs”, so to see her in an action film and being the main love interest opposite to Bruce Willis was quite interesting. And she provides that necessary balance between her character and Willis’s character of Tom Hardy.
The film is a fun popcorn flick and it does have its farfetched moments. But I watched the film having low expectations (considering many critics did n0t enjoy it) and by the end of the film, actually enjoying it. In fact, there were times that I felt the film was becoming too predictable. Actually, in the first half hour, I felt I figured out the film but it was nice to see how the writers played with the storyline and gave us a pretty interesting and surprising reveal of the killer’s identity at the end.
“STRIKING DISTANCE” also has the benefit of receiving a pretty good transfer from Sony but again, another classic release that is barebones with no commentary or special features whatsoever. Not even the film’s trailer is included.
In the end, for those who enjoyed the film and own it on DVD, the double dip is worth it if you are wanting it for the improved picture and audio quality. For those not familiar with the film and are wondering if it’s an action film they can enjoy, it’s worth checking out.
Overall, “STRIKING DISTANCE” is not the best suspenseful, thriller and by no means does it match the action of a “Die Hard” film but it does have an intriguing, suspenseful storyline with a surprising reveal at the end.
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