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"Loyalty above all else, except honor."—Lt. Vincent Hardy
Tom Hardy (Bruce Willis) is a 5th generation Pittsburgh cop investigating a serial killer, when he is demoted to river patrol for suggesting that the serial killer is another cop. Released and set in 1993.
Tropes in this film:
- A-Team Firing: A large group of police officers take aim at a car and shoot it up from both sides. None of them hit the suspect nor any parts which would impair the car's movement.
- Apathetic Citizens: During the first Chase Scene, not a single car pulls over to the side of the road at the sound of 15 police cars chasing a suspect. The passerby on the sidewalks look over at the cars with mild interest, but no one stops in their tracks or takes cover. Even a guy pushing a baby carriage along the cliff side only glances over at the chase, seemingly with no concern for the child.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Nick acts like a caring uncle and father, but treats Danny and Hardy like shit for no real reason and shot his own brother to protect Jimmy.
- Bottomless Magazines: Played straight by the killer as Tom is chased to his boat, but averted to the point of being ridiculous earlier in the film when Tom runs out of ammo while on his police boat so he uses the emergency Flare Gun.
- The Cameo: Kurt Russell as a man on a boat.
- Calling Card: The killer playing "Little Red Riding Hood" over the phone.
- Catch Phrase: "Let me rephrase that" and "Who's the best cop?"
- Cosmic Plaything: Hardy and Danny.
- Conviction by Contradiction: The person scheduled to die for being the Polish Hill Strangler insists his innocence, but was convicted because of one witness who says he saw him dumping a body in the river.
- Cool House: Tom lives on a houseboat, not far up the Allegheny River from the city.
- Drives Like Crazy: Tom joins up with the chase by going the wrong way down Bigelow Boulevard.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: A pickup truck slams into an overturned police car. Boom. A Flare Gun is fired at a fleeing suspect's car. Boom.
- Fair Cop: Jo. Kim Lee, too, even though she's more of a dispatcher rather than a cop.
- Fruit Cart: The police run into a truck loaded with very poorly secured (and obviously empty), cases of Iron City Beer.
- Hey, It's That Guy!:
- Hero Antagonist: Eiler.
- Nick is a subversion.
- Internal Affairs: Jo turns out to be an undercover IA sent to investigate Tom, but winds up testifying on his behalf instead.
- Ironic Echo: Jimmy Detillo says this to Nick Detillo after killing him when it's revealed that Jimmy is wearing a bulletproof vest:
Jimmy Detillo: Who's the best cop now, huh? Who's the best cop now?
- And said again by Tom Hardy before shocking him in the mouth with his tazer gun in the river:
Tom Hardy: Who's the best cop now?
- Lemming Cops: Man, these cops just won't give up in the chase in the beginning of the movie, even at horrible damage to their cars, and driving off a hill!
- Made of Explodium: When a TV and VCR are pushed into a wall on a cart, they explode and spark.
- Made of Indestructium: The bad guy has his car shot up by the A-Team Firing listed above, then it drives off a ten-foot ledge and lands in a parking lot. Then it drives away, continuing the chase.
- Meaningful Name: The judge is named "Helen Kramer", which is very close to "Helen Keller". Justice is blind, you know.
- Nepotism: Tom and his father are 5th and 4th generation cops. Toms uncle Nick and cousins Danny and Jimmy are all on the force. They all hold some rank, too. One of them is "the best cop", too
- Never Found the Body: Jimmy commits suicide by jumping off a bridge into a river, just like his mother did. His body is never found. However unlike his mother, he survives and lays low for a few years.
- Newscaster Cameo: Ken Rice and Sally Wiggin continue to broadcast in the Pittsburgh area 20 years later.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Tom rats out his partner and cousin Jimmy for beating a man into a coma. He is rewarded with the death of his father, the hatred of the entire police force, and a demogion to a boat patrolman.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Dennis Farina with his pronounced Chicago accent and Bruce Willis, Tom Sizemore and Robert Pastorelli with their equally obvious New York City accents. Problem was, they are playing characters that were born and raised in Pittsburgh.
- Noodle Implements: The remote control police car is used every time by the Polish Hill Strangler each time strikes - but the only people who ever know this are the Stranger, the victim and the audience. Why play with a remote control car before leaving your calling card? What's the point?
- Parental Favoritism: Nick clearly loves Jimmy more than Danny, treating Danny like little more than a bum. It goes even further, given he covered up Jimmy being the Strangler and demoted Tom for realizing the Strangler was a cop.
- Police Are Useless: Tom feels this way because he doesn't know who he can trust with his suspicions.
- Rabid Cop: Eiler, and his single-minded belief that Hardy is the killer.
- Railroad Tracks of Doom:
- Red Herring: Danny, who had just gotten back from California when the killings began again anew. There's also the moment Tom finds a body outside his home. He's devastated, thinking that it's Jo. . .and just as devastated to discover it's his co-worker and friend Kim Lee
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Tom continues to investigate the Polish Hill Strangler, despite no longer working in Homicide. This includes stealing files from Homicide.
- Stop or I Will Shoot: Tom and Jo see what they think is a wrapped body being thrown into the water. They immediately pursue the suspect, ignoring the obvious question of whether the possible body in the package thrown in the river may still be alive, and fire upon the suspect with a shotgun and a FlareGun just because he isn't stopping when asked.
- Straw Loser: Tom's original partner in river patrol, who exists only to fall off the back of boats. He doesn't do much to deserve it, he's just there for it.
- Stunt Double: The man "jumping" Tom's boat off the dam is rather obviously not Bruce Willis.
- Television Geography: To locals, the chase scene route at the beginning kind of makes sense, sorta. The tunnels they go through are about a mile and a half from the route they take through downtown, and they drive along notoriously time-consuming routes.
- Also the Establishing Shot of the courthouse isn't in Pittsburgh at all, it's the New York State Supreme Court.
- Took a Level In Jerkass: Hardy, after the Time Skip.
- Word Salad Title: "Striking Distance" refers to nothing in the movie, unless you count that sometimes the characters are actually within striking distance of each other.
- The shooting title was the more appropriate "Three Rivers". It was possibly changed to make it seem more like an action film.
- You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Used twice, in a flashback and the standoff in the cabin.