Die Hard on Water
If "Striking Distance" hadn't starred Bruce Willis maybe it would have been better, it's not that Willis puts in a terrible performance but the name sort of suggests certain things when we ware talking crime/drama/action. As such "Striking Distance" ends up a little lost as on one hand we have this crime/drama about a serial killer targeting a former cop and then on the other hand we have over the top action which feels like it's trying to be "Die Hard" on water. And sadly the blend doesn't work because both the storyline and action end up unbelievable yet also strangely dull, bordering far too often on the cheesy.
2 years after he was forced out of the force, following the death of his father and testifying again his cousin and partner, Tom Hardy (Bruce Willis - Death Becomes Her) now is part of the river enforcement team. But the past is still eating away at him as he believes the man they arrested for the death of his father and who is also accused of being the serial killer he was after is in fact a patsy, part of a cover up. And when the bodies of Tom's ex girlfriends start showing up in the river he is more certain than ever that the serial killer is at large and for some reason targeting him, which puts his new partner Jo Christman (Sarah Jessica Parker - Hocus Pocus) at risk as they embark on an affair.
Whilst setting "Striking Distance" on a river is a little bit interesting the actual main storyline ends up rather ordinary. We may have Willis playing a former cop who is now part of a river enforcement team but the storyline of a cop being toyed with by a serial killer isn't new. Even the back story which not only introduces us to Hardy's extended family who are all cops and the various issues from him testifying against his violent cousin to his father dying don't real add anything to the story other than a lot of very obvious clues.
As such the storyline to "Striking Distance" for the most plays out in a very obvious manner as Hardy's former girlfriends start showing up dead whilst he ends up falling for his new river patrol partner which puts her life in danger. There are some twists, some more contrived than others, but because it makes the clues to who the serial killer is very obvious you end up waiting for the reveal to come just so you can feel satisfied in having known all along. Lets put it this way, within the first 15 minutes which takes us back to 2 years earlier we not only get told that the serial killer drives like a cop but Hardy's Uncle seems very keen for him not to be digging around or kicking up a stink when a non cop is charged for the murders.
But the trouble is that because "Striking Distance" stars Bruce Willis it seems like director Rowdy Herrington has tried to give us "Die Hard" on water with a lot of unbelievable action. Ignoring the initial over long and outrageous car chase we then get Hardy taking down several men on a boat which he suspects as being in trouble, which wouldn't have been so bad if we hadn't had the daft element of him swimming under water with two shot gun cartridges in his mouth. But it gets worse a chase scene which sees Hardy and partner chase a car in their boat and firing flares at it is just beyond belief and that is before we get to the big and overlong action climax. And in a way it is a shame as if there hadn't been so much action and a little more storyline and a few less telegraphed twists then maybe "Striking Distance" could have worked.
Now whilst it seems like Willis has been cast to give us some "Die Hard" style heroics it is by no means a "Die Hard" performance. Willis often looks very uneasy as if he wasn't sure what "Striking Distance" wanted to be and as such his character Tom hardy seems to be mixed up, part ordinary guy, part bitter ex cop, part comedian and part hero with not all of the parts working in unison. And then there is Sarah Jessica Parker who plays Jo, the new diving partner who ends up falling for Tom, and you have to wonder why as they are so different it is unbelievable. In many ways it is a waste of Parker's talent because the character is weak, that obvious female love interest which could have been so much more interesting if things hadn't gone down the "Die Hard" route. And whilst the rest of the cast which includes Dennis Farina, Robert Pastorelli, John Mahoney and Tom Sizemore over act at least they are strangely entertaining.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Striking Distance" is not terrible but neither is it very good and ends up almost confused as to what it wants to be. It does have a reasonably good storyline which is spoiled not by being unoriginal but by making everything so obvious. And sadly whilst watching Bruce Willis is always entertaining it seems like his casting has causes director Rowdy Herrington to try and give us "Die Hard" on water.