Striking Distance

Striking Distance Information

Striking Distance is a 1993 thriller starring Bruce Willis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dennis Farina, and Tom Sizemore as Pittsburgh Police officers pursuing a serial killer. 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, Sergeant Tom Hardy (Bruce Willis), a Pittsburgh Police homicide detective, has just broken the Blue Code of Silence by informing on his partner and cousin, Sergeant Jimmy Detillo (Robert Pastorelli), for using excessive force on a suspect. He drives out to the policeman's ball with his father, Captain Vince Hardy (John Mahoney), who supports his son (living by the saying, "loyalty above all else, except honor."). However, the ball is postponed after a police scan goes out indicating that a serial killer nicknamed the Polish Hill strangler has been spotted on the 31st Street Bridge.

After a police chase and subsequent wreck, Tom regains consciousness, learning that his father has been shot dead, and that the killer got away. Police round up the usual suspects and make an arrest in the Polish Hill murders based on the testimony of Chick Chicanis.

Rather than go to prison, Jimmy climbs to the top of the 31st Street Bridge, and jumps off the bridge, as his mother did. His body is never found.

Two years later in 1993, 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, whom Tom had previously been involved with. Shortly thereafter he is assigned a new partner, Jo Christman (Sarah Jessica Parker). It is revealed by District Attorney Frank Morris (Andre Braugher) that Tom had been demoted to river rescue after he went on the news and publicly stated his belief that the Polish Hill Strangler was a member of the police force. His cousin Danny Detillo (Tom Sizemore) has stepped down from the force, and has become an alcoholic. He just recently returned from California and has forgiven Tom for his role in Jimmy's death.

At a local hospital, a nurse is abducted. Later that night Tom receives a phone call at his home similar to the ones left by the Polish Hill Strangler two years earlier, and then hears a woman scream before she is shot and the phone goes dead. Tom is then sure that the Polish Hill Strangler is still out there. However, Sergeant Eddie Eiler (Brion James) goes on the news stating that the murder was committed by a copycat. Tom is met with strong opposition by his uncle Nick Detillo (Dennis Farina), now a Captain, when he states that he received a phone call from the killer. Tom then 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. When back at the boat, they get a call over the radio; a body, the body of Paula Puglisi, another woman that Tom once dated, has been found.

Tom and Jo go to the policeman's ball where a nasty brawl occurs between Tom and the officers in attendance. The couple leave the ball together and return to the docks. Finally alone together in Tom's boathouse, the two partners succumb to their mutual attraction and have sex. Outside the boat, an unseen stranger silently observes the lovemaking through the bedroom window.

The following morning Jo stumbles upon Tom's investigation notes and photos of the two victims. Tom returns and shows her a newspaper article stating that another woman, Connie, yet another of Tom's old acquaintances, has been killed. Later Eiler informs Nick that he suspects Tom of the murders, but Nick refuses to let Eiler bring Tom in. He states that Tom has been under scrutiny by Internal Affairs. During a court hearing to have Tom removed from the force, it is revealed that Jo Christman is really Emily Harper of the Pennsylvania State Police, and 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.

Later that night, Emily is kidnapped. Just after arriving home, Tom calculates the distances of the body dumps to be in close proximity to his Uncle Nick's old cabin. He then suspects that Danny is the killer, seeking revenge for Jimmy. He is disturbed by his cat, trailing blood. Following the blood trail he finds his bed room trashed with blood and a firearm on the bed. Looking outside he finds another body, a police dispatcher he works with, he heads off to the cabin. Shortly after he arrives, Danny shows up and Tom demands he cooperate. Just then, someone shows up behind Tom and knocks him out.

Tom awakens and finds 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. Nick tells him to turn himself in. Jimmy is defiant and commands Tom to ask Nick how his father really died.

A flashback reveals that 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. As Jimmy fled, Vince pried himself out of the wreckage of Tom's car and took aim at the fleeing killer, unaware that it is Jimmy. Nick tried to stop him and, in the ensuing struggle, killed Vince.

After this revelation, Nick tries to kill Jimmy, but he 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. The police begin closing in, so Jimmy flees on a motorboat, with Tom in pursuit. The two eventually get into a scuffle in which Tom kills Jimmy, by tasering him in is his mouth. While he is getting freed of his handcuffs, Eiler steps in and helps remove the cuffs, and also apologizes in the process, prompting Tom to take his best shot. After a second of reluctance, Tom punches Eiler in the face.

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.

Filming locations

  • Pittsburgh City Hall
  • Point State Park, Pittsburgh
  • Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh
  • Mount Washington neighborhood, Pittsburgh
  • Neville Island, Pennsylvania
  • Monongahela, Pennsylvania
  • Natrona, Pennsylvania
  • Regis R. Maledy Bridge , Elizabeth, Pennsylvania

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Striking_Distance" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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