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‘Striking Distance’ (R)

By Joe Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 17, 1993

BRUCE WILLIS. If those two words alone don't keep you away from any theater showing "Striking Distance," maybe these will: Rowdy Herrington. He's the writer-director, who gave us the violent embarrassment "Road House," starring Patrick Swayze. An ugly, unbelievable thriller, "Striking Distance" is a lame excuse for a few loosely connected chase scenes, full of macho piggishness, glaring inconsistencies and yawning plot-holes.

This time around, the maverick cop Willis plays is named Tom Hardy, the unshaven scion of five generations of Pittsburgh policemen, whose signature seems to be extremely bad driving. Ostracized because he's testifying in a brutality case against his partner -- also his cousin -- Hardy is doggedly pursuing a serial killer, who employs a "Sea of Love"-type gimmick, playing Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs "Little Red Riding Hood" over the phone to the cops each time before he kills a young, blond woman. Hardy's sure the killer is a cop, which sure doesn't endear him further to the force.

Two years later, blowhard Hardy has been transferred to the River Rescue squad (the better to have chase scenes with BOATS) and saddled with a female partner (Sarah Jessica Parker). The serial killer starts up again, and this time he's killing only women that Hardy's been involved with.

Surlier than ever, Willis misbehaves with his usual chimpish charmlessness, and his character drinks and smokes so heavily throughout the film that you feel as if you've been in a dive bar all night. As Hardy's partner Jo Christman, Parker is all but ignored, except when she comes on to Hardy and they fall into bed. At one point during the preview screening, the projector went out of frame, removing Parker's head and showing only her chest and torso, revealing what her true purpose in this primitive-minded film is.

STRIKING DISTANCE (R) -- Area theaters.

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