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SHATTERED

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, July 29, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: Another offbeat choice, in a string offbeat choices, for a Blu-ray upgrade is this Hitchcock-wannabe thriller, which Kino Lorber has remastered. This review was published in the Oct. 13, 1991, Deseret News.

No question about it, "Shattered" has potential in its first act. Oh, the mystery isn't that hard to figure out and things do start getting convoluted early on. But there's still enough excitement in the stylish direction and earnest performances that the viewer holds out hope.

By the time we get to the final act, however, it has all become so wildly preposterous and the characters remain so sadly underdeveloped, that even those in the audience who readily suspended disbelief will likely be shaking their heads.

"Shattered" begins with a car crash off a San Francisco seaside cliff. Greta Scacchi ("Presumed Innocent") is apparently thrown out and survives without a scratch, but Tom Berenger is inside as the car rolls down the hill, and when it finally comes to a halt he is horribly disfigured and comatose.

After a time, Berenger comes out of the coma, but now he has amnesia. After extensive plastic surgery, he is helped by Scacchi through his lengthy recovery (though it seems hurried in the film's first five minutes or so).

When they go home, to a plush seaside mansion near San Francisco, Berenger immediately goes upstairs to the bedroom and smashes a mirror. (This movie isn't called "Shattered" without reason — glass shards play a more prominent role than any of the stars.)

     

                 Bob Hoskins, left, Tom Berenger, 'Shattered'

Later, Scacchi re-introduces Berenger to their friends, reserved Joanne Whalley-Kilmer ("Willow," "Scandal") and overbearing Corbin Bernsen (TV's "L.A. Law"). Bernsen, who is also his business partner, doesn't hesitate to tell Berenger what a jerk he used to be, which is later verified by Whalley-Kilmer — though she suggests that it was Scacchi's fault.

The next day, Berenger returns to work, without the faintest idea what that entails. Worse, his concentration is constantly interrupted by clues that indicate all was not well with his marriage for quite a while before the accident.

And it doesn't help that he keeps having those flashbacks, the ones with shattered glass, ocean waves and a gun.

Eventually, Berenger hires eccentric retired private eye Bob Hoskins, an animal lover who runs a pet store — and who apparently feels a loss whenever he has to part with any of his stock.

Together they try to unravel the growing mystery of who Berenger really is, whether Scacchi tried to kill him by deliberately rigging that car accident and what's behind all that broken glass in his flashbacks.

"Shattered" is replete with Hitchcock elements — snatches of "Vertigo," "Suspicion," "Spellbound" and "Rear Window" abound. Even Alan Silvestri's music echoes Hitchcock. Of course, Hitch never resorted to using the oldest of movie clichés, amnesia and plastic surgery, in the same film!

      

Adapting a novel, "The Plastic Nightmare" by Richard Neely, writer-director Wolfgang Petersen uses all the best suspense elements from his earlier films, the claustrophobic German U-boat thriller "Das Boot," the children's fantasy "The NeverEnding Story" and the science-fiction epic "Enemy Mine." Petersen also employs some great, if standard mood effects — fog, rainstorms, crashing waves, an abandoned ship. But, unfortunately, he forgets to make us care about the characters.

Berenger is convincing as a man trying to rediscover his past, though he's a bit bland (which may be intentional, given that he remembers nothing about himself). But Scacchi, Bernsen and Whalley-Kilmer are barely onscreen enough to register, much less create any dimension.

The only one to leave a mark is Hoskins' funny, eccentric detective, whose character traits are many, giving Hoskins the opportunity to have a field day. And yet, he's a bit too familiar — a reworking of his "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" role, perhaps?

All splash and no substance, in the end "Shattered" is merely a film that relies on its excesses instead of its story or characters.

And that includes its R-rated elements: There is the expected violence and profanity, but they are relatively restrained compared to the unnecessary over-abundance of sex and nudity.