Shattered (1991)
Shattered (1991)

Genre: Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.

Release Date: October 11th, 1991 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Wolfgang Petersen Actors: Tom Berenger, Bob Hoskins, Greta Scacchi, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, Corbin Bernsen, Debi A. Monahan, Jedda Jones, Kellye Nakahara




hattered” attempts to keep the audience guessing all the way to the end, making use of director Wolfgang Petersen’s knack for tortuous thrillers; for this project, he also wrote the screenplay, adapted from the novel by Richard Neely. Deception, conspiracy, and murder are served up with distinct style, though the sequence of events unfolds almost as expected, as if the spellbinding mystery couldn’t be afforded an equally mazy narrative. Inevitably, the twist ending revelations will make or break the picture as a whole – denoting it as either highly unique or greatly contrived – as the reveal is more memorable than the premise.

After a drunken night of partying, Dan Merrick (Tom Berenger) and his wife Judith (Greta Scacchi) climb into their car, only to lose control and drive off a cliff. She’s thrown clear and suffers no injuries, but he’s trapped in the vehicle and badly mangled. His face is severely mutilated and, when he awakens from a coma, he’s diagnosed with psychogenic amnesia; he can’t remember personal elements of his history, such as his seven-year relationship with his wife, but he can remember how to drive and do basic physical activities. Judith attempts to rehabilitate him, coaching him to regain his memories so he can slowly return to his former life.

He continues to suffer flashbacks of the accident, involving thousands of shards of bloodied glass crashing around him. Understandably, the many mirrors in his stately home drive him crazy. As he recuperates physically, he begins to discover things about his forgotten past that don’t add up. He finds photos of his wife with another man; at a dinner party with friends Jenny (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer) and Jeb Scott (Corbin Bernsen), he finds out that he used to treat his wife poorly; and he also learns that the two of them had spoken of divorce and fought during the night of the wreck. His wife was having an affair, and so was he. And considering his incredible wealth, he’s not without enemies who might want to see him dead.

Dan is at the mercy of those around him, as they can shape his past any way they like. With no memories of his personal life before the accident, he’s essentially spoon-fed information like an ignorant child. But everything seems suspicious or untrue. “Shattered” unfolds in an admirably Hitchcockian fashion, with Berenger as a confused, “wrong man” character struggling to piece together the mysteries. Audiences are privy only to the details Merrick is able to uncover – and there’s no shortage of misleading clues. Private investigator/pet store owner Gus Klein (Bob Hoskins) is his only friend, helping to straighten out the facts for the viewers who will purposely be unable to sort things out for themselves (if they can, Petersen hasn’t crafted the bafflingly winding tale he sought). At times the melodrama overtakes the suspense, but for the most part, the conundrums remain interesting. Unfortunately, it’s not always riveting, just faintly amusing.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10