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Case Number 02869: Small Claims Court

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MGM // 1991 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 9th, 2003

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Shattered (published January 3rd, 2008) and Shattered (1991) (Blu-ray) (published June 16th, 2016) are also available.

The Charge

When your memory has been taken, whom do you trust?

The Case

Don't you just hate it when pesky things like amnesia get in the way of a perfectly good life? Or so you think. Did you have a good life to being with? Were you happily married? Honest and trustworthy? These are all questions that Dan Merrick (Tom Berenger, Major League) asks himself after awakening in the hospital after a horrible accident. It seems that his automobile went careening off the ledge of a winding road, throwing his wife (Gretta Sacchi, The Player) clear and disfiguring Dan as he tumbled down the mountainside, trapped inside the mutilated wreckage. As Dan awakens and heals from plastic surgery to reconstruct his face, he finds his doting wife and his friends/business partners (Corbin Bernsen, TV's L.A. Law, and Joanna Whalley-Kilmar, Willow) by his side. As Dan is slowly integrated back into his life, he finds himself asking multiple questions when he discovers suspicious rolls of film in his tobacco box and receipts for $7,000 worth of merchandise from a local pet store. With the help of a private investigator (a hairy, rotund Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), Dan will attempt to piece his life back together and discover the truth behind the seemingly endless lies from his past.

By the time Shattered's final twist had made its appearance, I'd lost all hope that realism would all but be thrown out the window. The ending is a hokey conclusion to a thriller that thrives on jerking the viewer around until they've long since abandoned the idea they'll figure out what's going on. To be sure, this is one of director Wolfgang Peterson's most inconsequential efforts—with a résumé boasting such hits as In The Line Of Fire, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm and Das Boot, you have to wonder where this turkey came from. Peterson both directed and wrote this howler, showing that he has a skillful ear for crafting eye-roll inducing dialogue and preposterously outlandish situations (this isn't entirely Peterson's fault: we can also blame Richard Neely, whose novel this film was derived from). I don't want to discuss the intricacies of the plot since any murmur about them will most likely ruin the obligatory surprises. What I will say is that this so called "film noir" thriller thrusts the viewer around one too many times, making the final "shattering" conclusion one big let down. This isn't to say that Shattered is void of anything interesting—the performances are better than the material deserves, led by a solid Bob Hoskins and Tom Berenger, providing an air of respectability where none is really deserved. Joanne Whalley (one time wife of Val Kilmer) also shines as a weird palm reader who sports eyes the size of dinner plates and a china doll voice, which is exactly what I expect in my fortune tellers. It's too bad she couldn't see an hour into the screenplay to let the actors know they're working inside a real dog of a movie. The story thrives on making us think one thing when another is really the truth. The truth is that as time filler, you can do far worse than Shattered…or can you?!?

Shattered is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, featuring an anamorphic widescreen transfer. This picture is in better than average shape, sporting fine colors and solid black levels. Overall there's nothing exciting about this picture—it never jumps out at you and screams "look how crisp and clear I am!" Instead, it's a bit dull with a few minor imperfections on the screen (a small amount of grain and softness in the image). Though it's not great, it works well for this cheesy 1991 thriller. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround in English and Spanish. Like the video transfer, this sound mix isn't anything to write home about. There are some mild separations in the directional effects, though the bulk of this track is centered in the front half of the sound stage. Alan Silvestri's early '80s throwback music score gets the biggest boost—otherwise, the mix is clear of any excessive hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are French, English, and Spanish subtitles.

Fans may be "shattered" to hear that the only supplement available on this disc is a meager theatrical trailer for the film. However, selling at only around ten bucks, this disc won't break your budget.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 72

Perp Profile

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailers


• IMDb

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