Shattered (US - DVD R1)
Gabe...must...avoid...puns based on the title...must not fail to...keep...dignity...
Neil Warner (Gerard Butler) is a successful ad exec that isn’t afraid to burn bridges with his co-workers to score the biggest clients. Neil lives a perfect little life outside of work with his beautiful wife Abby (Maria Bello) and their adorable daughter Sophie, inside a giant house with loads of money. When Abby and Neil leave the house one day for separate vacations the babysitter kidnaps Sophie, and a frightening man named Tom Ryan appears in the couple’s back seat with a gun and a list of demands. If they refuse to comply with the cold and calculating sociopath’s demands, Sophie will be killed.
All signs do not point to good when three reasonably large stars can’t get a decent theatrical release out of a mainstream thriller concept. This is my initial reaction to the cover art of Shattered alone. Staring in this rather drably titled film (re-titled by Lionsgate from Butterfly on a Wheel, which was apparently too poetic for American audiences) is a massive star that’s slowly been descending the popularity ladder for years despite his best efforts in Pierce Brosnan, a consummate critic’s darling in Mario Bello, and an actor that finally found his superstardom after years of toiling in Gerard Butler. Lionsgate seems to have a lot of these ‘zero-US-release’ flicks on their DVD plate, and so far I haven’t been surprised by the quality of a single one—but that doesn’t mean I should continue to judge DVDs by their covers.
Shattered is one of those movies where ordinary people are put under a lot of pressure, they start to pop off at the ones they love, and the plot keeps twisting and turning until the audience’s suspension of disbelief is either lying broken and shattered on the floor crying, or dancing a drunken jig on the bar. It’s not quite a genre, per se, but it is a brand of film that’s been making the rounds for a while now, and it has its fair share of clichés, and Shattered is full of them.
The bad guy’s dialogue is made up of nothing but threats and speeches about how well off the heroes are. The good guys start bickering about unrelated problems from their pasts, they make up little plans of attack, and the villain is always a few steps ahead of them. Brosnan and Butler smoulder and yell at each other like bored professionals, and Bello is mostly adequate as the innocent party, but no body really steps out of the troupe to create a genuinely stunning performance. We’re only given about fifteen minutes or so to get to know our protagonists, and neither of them are particularly likeable, especially not Neil who’s introduced as a prick right off the bat. It’s one thing to draw heroes with multiple facets, but immediately painting your protagonists as generally unlikable people is an uphill battle only the most incredible second and third act twists can overcome. They never show up.
Psychological torture isn’t a particularly entertaining thing to watch, but it can be rather suspenseful when properly executed. One thing it usually isn’t is boring. I hesitate to call Shattered boring, but I don’t recall being enthralled once during the film’s ninety-five minutes. It’s kind of like writer William Morrissey just made up a list of the worst things that could happen to a successful, upper-class white American male, and tried to incorporate them into his script. As someone that loves slasher films I understand the ‘list’ mentality, but this film is really just frustrating event after frustrating event rather then an enthralling page turner.
And then we’re left with yet another twist ending that works on the same elementary school irony that the lamest episodes of Tales from the Crypt works on. That’s what Shattered is in the end, an extra long episode of a gaudy and cartoony television horror series based on a series of comic books, but with a slick sheen of pretence. Somehow no one seems to be aware that they were making mawkish pulp, which is probably why Lionsgate and Icon entertainment didn’t see fit to release the film theatrically.
My eyes are really starting to adjust to the differences between HD and DVD, and this disc is a fine example of the former’s shortcomings in light of the latter’s achievements. The overall image is slightly soft but reasonably filled with detail, and there is solid depth. Colours are well balanced and separated, though edge enhancement is a bit of a problem. Blacks are deep and clean, but contrast levels seem a little low considering the general cleanliness of the cinematography style. The most obvious issues are the occasional interlacing and combing effects.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is pretty lively though out. Incidental sound effects are properly placed and move through the channels in the correct directions. Dialogue, even whispery and brooding dialogue, is clear and understandable, and centred without bleeding. Shattered’s score is well executed, but it’s kind of the apex of the film’s cliché driven nature. The soundtrack throbs repetitively during tense moments and spikes at the moment of ‘impact’ with drab precision. The score warmly bleeds from every channel, though it mostly resides up front, and gives the subwoofer a bit of a workout.
Extras begin with a commentary track featuring our director Mike Barker and writer/producer writer William Morrissey. The team sums up the entire filmmaking process with a decent sense of humour and are relative sense of humility. It’s mostly brass tacks, but it’s not entirely robotic, and the actor’s egos are appropriately scratched. The commentators start to run out of steam pretty early on, and the silence quickly becomes more common. At about the twenty minute mark the track comes to basically a stop with blips of info throughout.
‘Breaking Apart the Wheel’ is one of the most pretentious pieces of rot I’ve seen wrapped as an informative featurette. Everyone, the actors, the director, the writer, the producer, waxes philosophical about the film, throwing around words like ‘genius’ until they don’t mean anything. Writer William Morrissey is the most high nosed, dressed in snazzy glasses, black coat and purple scarf (everyone walking around in the background is wearing short sleeved shirts), but this sense of importance and genuine originality infects everyone. The doc is full of spoilers, so it likely wasn’t made as an EPK, but it moves along the same humourless lines, patting raw backs the whole way for about eighteen minutes.
‘Hero to Villain’ is a featurette concerned solely with Pierce Brosnan. The four minute featurette acts as if Brosnan has never played a villain before. Factually, in most cases James Bond was just as brutal as Tom Ryan. Really this role isn’t an impressive one, or even against type, and I really have no idea what Brosnan saw in the role. To see post-Bond Brosnan acting his best and genuinely against type see The Matador.
There are two deleted scenes—an awkward husband and wife moment between Bello and Butler, and a brief scene in a train station that gives away a little too much plot twist. The scenes total less then two minutes. These are followed by three alternate scenes—an alternate credit sequence curiously using words like ‘actor’ or ‘producer’ rather then actual names, a slightly different version of a scene between Ryan and his son, and a slightly different version of the police station scene. These total less then five minutes, and are followed by some more Lionsgate trailers.
Shattered isn’t really any good, it’s clichéd and awkward. The film is slick when it should be rough and rough when it should be slick. Even fans of the top tier cast will likely be disappointed by the flat characters. If you positively must see everything staring Pierce Brosnan give it a rent, but keep your expectations very low.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 25th December 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Director/Writer Commentary, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Featurettes, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Mike Barker
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Gerard Butler, Maria Bello, Claudette Mink
Genre: Crime, Drama and Thriller
Length: 95 minutes
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