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Striking Distance (1993) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Image"Striking Distance" is a 1993 Bruce Willis movie that has faded into obscurity.  But is it really as bad as everyone says it is?  The answer is yes, and no.  By present action movie standards the film is corny and simple, without any real good action sequences.  However, the film is not an insufferable bore to sit through.

There are a lot of films out there that never grab an audiences' attention.  "Striking Distance" does have the ability to grab, but somehow the filmmakers constantly let it slip through their fingers.  The plot is entirely too simple that even a toddler could have predicted the outcome.  At the same time, some of the plot motives feel stretched without any basis for their existence.  On the plus side, the film flows rather well.  Sure there are lulls, but for the most part you can retain watching it from beginning to end.

The film takes place in Pittsburgh.  It opens with a nice police/villain car chase sequence.  As it turns out the chased villain is the serial killer that everyone has been hunting for.  With all the standard cop cars left in the dust or blown to pieces, Tom Hardy (Bruce Willis) and his father are the only ones left chasing the criminal.  When they fly off the road, both cars come to a crushing landing.  Tom remains unconscious and we skip to an unnoted time after the car crash.  The cops on the scene take care of all the damage first, and then remove Hardy from the car.  His leg is crushed.  As it turns out his father was shot and killed by the murderer and the killer was able to escape.

Hardy is already hated by the entire police force because he rolled over on his partner, his cousin, Jimmy Detillo (Robert Pastorelli).  A hearing into his partner's brutally is going to result in his partner's arrest.  However, Jimmy is not about to go quietly.  We find him about to jump off a bridge.  How original.  Hardy and the family of cops try to persuade Jimmy off the ledge, but to no avail.  He jumps.  Of course, anybody with a brain watching this film knows that we haven't seen the last of Jimmy.

We now skipped to one year later.  Hardy has now been demoted from the homicide detective squad to river patrol.  His demotion occurred because he stated that a cop killed his father.  It had long been thought that a cop was the serial killer.  Hardy doesn't believe that the man the cops fingered is the real serial killer, least of all the killer of his father.  It is clear that the police force is prosecuting this innocent man to cover their own butts. Hardy has turned into the old man that is always drunk living in a boathouse.  He has no respect for what he does nor anyone that he works with.  He is given a new partner, who just happens to be female, the first female and pretty much only female to appear in the movie.  Then, the body dumping begins.  Every few days, Hardy finds new bodies dumped into the river along his patrol route.  As it turns out, each newly discovered body is a female victim that Hardy once had a personal relationship with.  Ding Ding.  Light bulb.  Gee, maybe the killer is someone that you know, and since he killed your high school prom date, perhaps it is someone that you have known for your whole life.

All the events that occur from here on out are strived to only lengthen the film.  The sequence of events is just unrealistic.  "Striking Distance" is fair, but extremely far from a decent action, thriller, mystery film.

The film comes to Blu-ray with an MPEG-4 AVC encode on a BD-25 disc.  The transfer is decent for a 1993 film.  However, it still leaves much to be desired.  Surprisingly, the transfer is not hindered by severe noise reduction.  The amount of film grain is noticeable, but I never find it distracting.  Even with the film grain, the image is entirely flat.  The colors do not pop and black levels falls short. Shadow delineation is poor in nighttime sequences.  Interior shots are bland with an oversaturated contrast level.  Details are fairly decent, as are object textures.  Aside from the slightly soft looking transfer, there are no technical issues with the transfer.  There is no vertical banding, source artifacting, and edge enhancement is extremely minor.  This is much improved from the standard DVD transfer and probably the best the film is going to look with a complete restoration, which is obviously not a viable option for such a film.

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and fairs slightly better than the video quality.  The open is entirely immersive, although there is a major precedence effect going on as you slightly move your head from front to back.  Dialogue is clear in the center channel, however it sounds a bit band-limited.  The LFE channel is weak, never pushing through the mix.  Sound effects also sound band-limited.  The dynamics seem to disappear after the initial car chase.  Surround use is limited to just the action sequences.  Ambience in the surrounds channels is not prevalent during the quieter sequences.  My biggest gripe with audio track is the tinny, boxy and otherwise frequency-limited sound.

I guess Sony feels the same way we do about the film, as they sought to deliver zero bonus materials.  I expected at least some deleted scenes.  I know they exist as the Argentina release of the film is 11 minutes longer than the US release.  Alas, the disc is only equipped with BD-Live functionality for any possible future special features.

"Striking Distance" isn't exactly a bore, however, is teeters on the border of boredom.  The motives of the plot are weak and a jumbled mess.  The audio and video quality is okay, but far from representative of what the Blu-ray format can offer.  Nonetheless, it is the best the film is going to look.  I am going to have to say skip this disc.

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