If Shattered were a better movie, Judge Kristin Munson notes, the commentary wouldn't be as much fun.
Our review of Shattered, published May 9th, 2003, is also available.
Lives Will Be Broken. Celluloid Will Be Wasted.
It's not easy to assemble a talented, recognizable cast, location filming, and an excellent set designer on an indie budget but the producers of Shattered were able to succeed. What they couldn't do was rescue it from genre clichés and underwritten characters. Premiering on TNT and released as Butterfly on Wheel outside the United States, the movie is a ho-hum affair and the DVD is saved from a "don't bother" recommendation by a single extra.
Facts of the Case
Neil (Gerard Butler, 300) has the perfect life: a fat bank account, a rising career, and an ideal family. Then a stranger (Pierce Brosnan The Matador) rises out of the backseat of his car. He has a gun and Neil's daughter and if Neil and his wife (Maria Bello A History of Violence) don't do everything he says he'll take that perfect life away. Piece by piece.
The best way to describe Shattered is a warmed-over TV movie with a bigger budget and better casting. It's not a terrible film; you've just seen it all before. Will the hero act like a pig-headed jerk, endangering his child? Has the kidnapper elaborately planned for every possible move the hero might make before he's even thought of making it? Will there be shocking last-act twists that are actually pretty predictable?
In a word: Duh.
Pierce Brosnan walks off with this movie but that's hardly surprising as the script gives Bello and Butler little to do but be obnoxious, loud, and wet. They scream and weep or scream and sweat and the rain pours down over dialogue like this:
I have never regretted my sound system until today.
The video transfer on the disc is glossy and slick, so much so that it threatens to wash you away in a deluge of perspiration and tears and the menu features a seizure-inducing transition scene whenever you make a selection. The many traffic scenes and shouting matches make the most of the 5.1 audio track. Extras include a decent featurette that's more film analysis than "making-of," deleted scenes, and alternate edits. There's also a puff piece on producer Pierce, which I mention for the simple joy that alliteration brings to my sad and bitter existence.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The only thing worse than having a watch a blah film full of unpleasant characters is having to watch it again with commentary. But a funny thing happened on the Shattered commentary, a wondrous, magical thing. The commentators start riffing on their own film.
Not only do director Mike Barker and writer William Morrisey not take
themselves or their movie too seriously, they prove they'd be right at home on
the Satellite of Love or the
Morrisey: Best shot in the film, Mike.
When Morrisey gleefully takes a potshot at Butler's fan base, Barker laments the royalties it will cost them. They play off each other like a well-oiled comedic team and the commentary winds up more entertaining than the actual movie.
Shattered is standard genre fare that never rises above average. The cast works hard but can't overcome the fact that the leads are two-dimensional at best, and downright unlikable at worst. The main reason to pick up the DVD is for the commentary track, which, if you're like me, you'll wind up watching more than the feature.
"Do they give awards for this sort of thing?" the director wonders at one point. No, Mr. Barker, but if they did, you'd get my vote.
Shattered is guilty of playing it safe. Morissey and Barker are free to go, so they can make more movies to record commentaries for.
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