Picks and Pans Review: Striking Distance

updated 10/04/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/04/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Bruce Willis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Farina, Robert Pastorelli

Okay. It's silly. It's childishly obscene. It's convoluted to the point of impenetrability. And it features Willis, who is to action movie heroes what Twinkies are to pastry. Nonetheless, this film is picturesque, fast-moving and engaging.

Willis is that darling cliché of movie writers, the ostracized cop. In this case, said cop has been banished from homicide duty to the river patrol because he has proclaimed that his policeman father was murdered by another cop. Parker plays Willis's new partner, who, for no apparent reason, throws herself at Willis. He makes the catch—in between arguing with his lifelong buddy and fellow cop Sizemore and chasing around a river-boat full of coke-snorting, gun-toting bad guys.

The confusing plot is untangled at the end, though loose ends dangle all over. In the interim, the action sequences and appealing vistas of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers are welcome diversions. The actors come off well despite the dumb, profanity-ridden dialogue. Sizemore and Farina—who plays Willis's cop uncle—effectively suggest some enigmatic menace; Parker is likable, though seemingly the most adolescent, unjaded cop of all time; and Willis is less preposterous than he has been in, say, the Die Hard movies (The less said about Hudson Hawk...). The versatile John Ma-honey may not be too grateful to his agent for landing him his role as Willis's late father, though, since he appears mostly in still photos. It's one of the frustrations of this basically enjoyable movie that the crucial father-son relationship is never displayed on screen. (R)"

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