Striking Distance

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Striking Distance
Striking distance.jpg
Promotional movie poster
Directed by Rowdy Herrington
Produced by Marty Kaplan
Arnon Milchan
Written by Rowdy Herrington
Marty Kaplan
Starring Bruce Willis
Sarah Jessica Parker
Dennis Farina
Tom Sizemore
Robert Pastorelli
Timothy Busfield
Andre Braugher
John Mahoney
Tom Atkins
Music by Brad Fiedel
Cinematography Mac Ahlberg
Edited by Pasquale Buba
Mark Helfrich
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
September 17, 1993 USA
Running time
101 min.
Language English
Budget $30 million
Box office $24,107,867 (USA)

Striking Distance is a 1993 American action thriller film starring Bruce Willis as a Pittsburgh Police homicide detective Thomas Hardy. The film co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Dennis Farina, and Tom Sizemore. It was directed by Rowdy Herrington and written by Herrington and Marty Kaplan. The film was shot on location throughout Pittsburgh; its early title was Three Rivers.


In 1991, Thomas Hardy (Bruce Willis), a Pittsburgh Police homicide detective, has just broken the Blue Code of Silence by informing on his partner and cousin, Jimmy Detillo (Robert Pastorelli), for using excessive force on a suspect, causing Tom to be dismissed by his fellow officers as a traitor. He attends the Policemen's Ball with his father, Vince Hardy (John Mahoney). However, the ball is postponed after a police scan goes out indicating a serial killer nicknamed the Polish Hill strangler has been spotted on the 31st Street Bridge.

While pursuing the killer, Tom gets into an accident and is knocked unconscious. When he regains consciousness, he learns his father has been shot dead and the killer escaped. Police round up the usual suspects and make an arrest in the Polish Hill murders based on the testimony of Chick Chicanis (Gareth Williams). Meanwhile, rather than go to prison, Jimmy climbs to the top of the 31st Street Bridge and jumps off. His body is never found.

Two years later, Tom is working for the Pittsburgh Police River Rescue Squad when he is called to the scene of a body dump. The victim turns out to be a stewardess, Cheryl Putnam, with whom Tom had once been romantically involved. He is soon assigned a new partner, Jo Christman (Sarah Jessica Parker). District Attorney Frank Morris (Andre Braugher) reveals Tom had been demoted to River Rescue after he went on the news and publicly stated he believes the Polish Hill Strangler was a member of the police force. His cousin Danny Detillo (Tom Sizemore) has stepped down from the force and became an alcoholic. He has recently returned from California and has forgiven Tom for his role in Jimmy's death.

At a hospital, a nurse is abducted. Tom receives a phone call similar to ones left by the Polish Hill Strangler two years earlier. He hears a woman scream before she is shot and the phone goes dead. Tom is sure the Polish Hill Strangler is still out there. However, Detective Eddie Eiler (Brion James) states on TV the murder was committed by a copycat. Tom is met with strong opposition by his uncle Nick Detillo (Dennis Farina), now a Captain, after claiming he received a phone call from the killer. Tom goes to the precinct and steals Chick Chicanis' deposition file in order to conduct an unauthorized investigation.

While on river patrol, he tracks down Chicanis and tries to get him to talk at gunpoint, but is stopped by Christman. They get a call over the radio; the body of another woman whom Tom once dated has been found.

Later, at the Policemen's Ball, a nasty brawl occurs between Tom and the officers in attendance, and ends with Jo and Tom leaving the melee together. Tom's tenacity and resilience continues to spark Jo's passion at his boathouse, where she finally succumbs and kisses him. Tom returns the affection and takes Jo to his bedroom where he deftly makes love to her. Outside the boat, an unseen person silently watches

The following day, Tom and Jo are on patrol and stumble upon the scene of someone dumping what appears to be a wrapped body off a bridge. Tom destroys the suspect's car but the unidentified individual escapes on foot. Divers sent to retrieve the body from the river find it to merely to be a bunch of rugs. Tom is humiliated by his peers, which he and Jo suspect was the point of the incident.

Jo stumbles upon Tom's investigation notes and photos of the two victims Tom shows her a newspaper article stating another woman, Connie, yet another of Tom's old acquaintances, has been killed. Eiler informs Nick he suspects Tom of the murders, and Nick discloses Tom has been under scrutiny by Internal Affairs. During a court hearing to have Tom removed from the force, it is revealed Jo Christman is really Emily Harper of the Pennsylvania State Police, who has been monitoring Tom to find evidence of misconduct. Harper lies on the witness stand about Tom's confrontation with Chicanis, and he goes unpunished. Nick, who was in attendance, had a small cross necklace in his hand, seeming disturbed.

Emily is kidnapped. After arriving home, Tom calculates the distances of the body dumps to be in close proximity to his Uncle Nick's old cabin. He suspects Danny is the killer, seeking revenge for Jimmy.

Tom finds his bedroom trashed with blood and a firearm on the bed. Outside he finds another body, a police dispatcher he knows. Tom heads to the cabin. Danny shows up and Tom demands he cooperate. Someone from behind then knocks Tom cold.

Tom awakens to find himself, Danny, and Emily handcuffed to chairs, with the news broadcast of Jimmy's brutality case playing on a TV. The killer reveals himself as none other than Jimmy Detillo, who had survived the fall into the river two years earlier. Jimmy is about to kill Emily when Nick suddenly walks in and stops him, telling him to turn himself in. Jimmy is defiant and commands Nick to tell Tom how Vince really died.

A flashback reveals Nick arrived on the scene immediately after the crash and was the first to confront the killer. He was horrified to find Jimmy, but let him escape. Vince pried himself out of the wreckage of Tom's car and took aim at the fleeing killer, unaware it was Jimmy. Nick tried to stop him and, in the ensuing struggle, killed Vince.

After this revelation, Nick tries to kill Jimmy, who is wearing a ballistic vest and returns fire, killing Nick. In a fit of rage, Danny charges at Jimmy, giving Tom a chance to free himself. As the police close in, Jimmy flees on a motorboat with Tom in pursuit. The two get into a scuffle in which Tom kills Jimmy by tasering him in his mouth. Eiler helps remove the cuffs from Tom's wrists, apologizing in the process, prompting Tom to punch Eiler in the face, in which Tom does so after a second of relunctance.

The movie ends with Tom, reinstated as a detective, visiting his father's grave with Emily and her daughter Sarah.



Striking Distance received negative reviews from critics, as it currently holds a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film grossed $24.1 million domestically, barely recouping its $30 million budget. It was cited as one of the many troubled projects during the time Sony Pictures was run by Jon Peters and Peter Guber, and while it did not lose money or creatively embarrass the studio, it was a troubled production that took a huge amount of resources to merely break even.

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