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Hauer hams his way through an interminable 'Split Second'


As if from a nightmare, I bolted awake one night last week. A question had beaten its way into my head, and would not let me go.

"Why," I screamed to the mute, blank bedroom walls, "did they call it 'Split Second'?"

There is only one answer: because it lasts for far too many split seconds.

It's like a bad, cheap imitation of "Alien" filmed at a surf's-up theme park in Kansas. Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink, nor a thought to think. What the movie has in abundance, however, is pork -- of the hammy variety.

Chief oinker is Rutger Hauer, the Stonehenge-scaled Dutch actor who had a brief fling at American stardom and now offers his brooding, sulky machismo to anybody with a buck or so. In this film, he plays a cop, and his "acting" consists primarily of throwing people up against a wall and manhandling them violently until they come clean. And these are the other cops!

The only ingratiating note in the rather dour proceedings is sounded by Neil Duncan, in the thankless role of Hauer's sidekick. He gets slammed against the wall several times himself, but always manages to keep the upper lip stiff and the wit droll.

Hauer and Duncan are on the track of some vaguely glimpsed Satanic tooth machine who has taken the great Bruce's "Hungry Heart" a bit too literally: It likes to eat human hearts. Ergo, the movie displays several corpses with irrigation ditches where the pumper used to be.

The game played is primitive. We get partial-body shots, see footprints, hear screams and discover slashings, but we never see the bad boy up front and personal until the end. Fool that I am, I will watch any amount of gunk if I get a glimpse of a scary bugger at the end, something I haven't seen before.

And that's where "Split Second" betrays its most sacred obligation, its only obligation. I want monsters, demons, beasts, gargoyles, choppers; I want a visage seething with evil, with tendrils and eyeballs and crooked, slimy yellow teeth, with dragon's breath, Viking's bloodlust, and a real bad attitude.

This movie never really gives us the money shot. So why should we give it the money?

'Split Second'

Starring Rutger Hauer and Neil Duncan.

Directed by Tony Maylam.

Released by Interstar.

Rated R.


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