Shattered (1991) – Film Review
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Cast: Tom Berenger, Greta Scacchi, Bob Hoskins
By Roger Crow
When I first moved to Yorkshire in 1991, filling those empty weekends with movies was a weekly thing. And one of them was Shattered, a Hitchcockian thriller in the style of Vertigo, which saw a confused Tom Berenger mixed up in nefarious shenanigans after a car crash.
He’s a San Francisco businessman stitched back together after that opening crash. Luckily he has alluring partner (Greta Scacchi) to fill in the blanks of his amnesia, but is she telling the truth, and does he care? Because as soon as his face has miraculously healed, they’re making out to the old classic ‘Knights in White Satin’ while superimposed waves crash against a shore. Thanks to one of the cheesiest touches in a non-comedic detective thriller, I’ve never heard that Moody Blues song in the same way since.
Aptly for a movie about amnesia I had forgotten most of the rest of the film in the three decades since my last viewing. Such as the fact Bob Hoskins is an asthmatic “New Yoik” pet shop owner who’s also a detective. And yes, this was a few years before Ace Ventura cornered that market.
Anyway, poor Tom, who is repeatedly plagued by a memories of smashing through a windscreen and a mist-shrouded ship, tries to get to the bottom of the mystery. Thrown into the mix is Corbin Bernsen as Berenger’s business associate, and Joanne Whalley-Kilmer as a seductive doe-eyed love interest who, like Greta, also gets the urge to disrobe when she’s in the presence of ‘Confused.Tom’.
Wolfgang Petersen, who died in 2022, delivers some truly bizarre touches, such as the moment our hero defenestrates a fax machine in a sudden moment of anger. Not that it seems to bother business bloke Bernsen, who treats it as perfectly normal. (Maybe if you worked for the coke-fuelled office in The Wolf of Wall Street).
The twist, when it comes, is gloriously nuts, glossing over a key factor that would be spoilerific to mention here. It’s no better or worse than the equally bonkers namesake thriller featuring John Malkovich which was released relatively recently.
Dead Again and Basic Instinct covered similar ground in 1991 and 1992, but despite its faults, Shattered (‘91) is still a goofy curio which deserves at least one look.