Pierce Brosnan - Tom Ryan
Maria Bello - Abby Randall
Gerard Butler - Neil Randall
Emma Karwandy - Sophie Randall
Claudette Mink - Judy
Year - 2007
Score - 3 Howls Outta 4
The perfect family: husband & wife, 2.5 kids, the house with the white picket fence - most of us try very hard to have that kind of life once we settle down. But what happens if a stranger just steps into our lives and threatens to take that away because of some deep, dark secret you've been keeping? Would you do everything in your power to reveal your secret to save the people you love, even if it might cause you to lose them at the end? Or does the secret mean more to you than your family? In the straight-to-DVD released SHATTERED, distributed by Lions Gate, you may be bound to find out while experience many twists and turns before you get the answer.
Abby (Maria Bello) and Neil Randall (Gerard Butler) seem to be the perfect married couple. They have a beautiful daughter (Emma Karwandy), a big house in Chicago, and enough money to go away on vacation for a weekend. However, that perfection begins to flaw when a stranger named Tom Ryan (Pierce Brosnan) enters their lives, taking them hostage and threatening to murder their daughter, who an associate has kidnapped. For about 24 hours, Tom keeps the couple at bay, torturing them and making them do things they don't want to do but need to in order to save their daughter. Eventually, the whole thing is leading to Tom wanting Neil to kill someone for him - in exchange for his daughter's life.
SHATTERED, which was known as BUTTERFLY ON A WHEEL [a reference to Alexander Pope's "Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot"], is probably the best straight-to-DVD feature distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment so far. This pretty entertaining thriller/mystery was definitely made for the movie theatres, but something must have happened along the way for it to end up straight on a disc. It's too bad because this film has a lot of star power, who bring good performances to make an implausible situation actually seem believable.
SHATTERED is a hard film to review. It's the kind of film that if you really dig deep and talk about certain aspects, it may spoil and ruin the experience for someone who hasn't seen it yet. I don't want to do that, so I won't talk about the story and the characters. I will say that the film is very heavy on twists and turns until it reaches its resolution. Yes, this is very common in most modern thrillers these days but the twists actually make the film and are actually quite entertaining. I won't say whether the resolution is satisfying or not [I liked it personally], but it'll definitely make you think.
The direction by Mike Barker is very good. The film starts off very slow but picks up once Brosnan is introduced, and it pretty much doesn't let up. It builds and builds and builds as the films tries to trick you with things you may or may not have seen coming. Nice use of angles, lighting, and close-up reaction shots truly benefit the film's visual style. You're never bored and the cinematography by Ashley Rowe is beautiful. Barker truly tries to get the viewer emotionally involved with the characters, making us wonder what we would do in their shoes. The morals of people are questioned here and I thought the visual did a good job making that clear.
The acting is very good here as well. The acting by Pierce Brosnan especially, who dumps everything that was suave and cool as James Bond, and pretty much plays an immoral character who suffers from sociopathic tendecies for reasons I don't want to bring up right now. Brosnan has done great work as of late in recent films and this one is no exception. It was kind of weird seeing him as the antogonist since he's known for his good guy roles. Also, his accent was either Irish or Scottish, and didn't sound as British as Bond's. Just an interesting character change for the actor that I appreciated. Maria Bello and Gerard Butler also do well as the supporting cast, as their characters were pretty much going through the emotional wringer most of the film. Bello is solid as always and is quite believable in her performance. Butler had an issue with his accent with me, as I wasn't sure if he was American or European or what. His accent going in and out and it took something away from his performance. But for the most part, he convinced me that was capable of more than just being Lara Croft's sidekick, a phantom of an opera, or a spartan.
I also had issues with some of the twists. While I enjoyed them, I thought that the resolution really didn't explain their plausibility enough. It seemed like some were shot one way and by the end, shown at a completely different angle that didn't match to what was shown before. But then again, you gotta make your story work. Sometimes bullshit is a nice easy way out.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE BEING TAKEN HOSTAGE BY THIS FILM
1. If you wake up at the middle ofthe night and your husband is not in bed with you, he's either working hard, screwing a younger version of you, or working hard screwing a younger version of you. Either way, you're not too important in his life.
2. Don't be a handsome smug executive who acts innocent while stealing other people's opportunities at the same time. It will only bite you in the ass later on. Believe me, people have learned from the Amanda Woodward Epidemic of the 1990s.
3. Abby can't get enough of Neil. I guess she's just another in a line of women who really want to see if he's really the King of Sparta. Lucky bastard.
4. Abby wanted a younger nanny to take care of her daughter, Sophie. Has she not learned from Sienna Miller or Uma Thurman? Read the tabloids, girl!
5. Tom Ryan took Abby and Neil hostage. I guess losing the James Bond gig left him shaken, not stirred.
6. Tom Ryan claims to be God. Yeah, because DIE ANOTHER DAY was so heavenly...
7. If you tell a woman to do something, she'll do the exact opposite. And people wonder why the divorce rate is so high? All us men want is for a woman to listen to them. Is that so hard?
8. Does stress bring the ugly truth out of people?
Yeah, I guess.
That answer is....
::shaking and sweating::
9. Tom Ryan is getting annoyed by Neil's "big dick pride". How does he know about the size of his manhood? Look, I know Europeans are very comfortable with sex, but that's just a little weird...
10. Tom Ryan is making Neil's life a living hell. Maybe if Neil had kicked Tom into that big bottomless pit, none of this would be happening!
THE FINAL HOWL
SHATTERED is a pretty good thriller that deserved the silver screen treatment. Hell, if PERFECT STRANGER could get it, why shouldn't this much better film? Good-to-great performances, nice direction, a pretty entertaining story with nice twists and turns - I dug this film. It's far from perfect but it does enough well to be worth a watch. I wouldn't buy SHATTERED but I'd definitely rent it. You could do a lot worse with your free time than by watching this film.