Butterfly on a Wheel

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Shattered: Butterfly on a Wheel
Directed by Mike Barker
Produced by William Vince
William Morrissey
Pierce Brosnan
Written by William Morrissey
Starring Pierce Brosnan
Gerard Butler
Maria Bello
Callum Keith Rennie
Music by Robert Duncan
Cinematography Ashley Rowe
Edited by Guy Bensley
Bill Sheppard
Distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment (US)
Icon Entertainment (non-US)
Freestyle Releasing[1]
Release dates
  • August 2007 (2007-08)[2]
Country Canada
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $20 million[3]

Butterfly on a Wheel (US: Shattered, Europe: Desperate Hours) is a 2007 British–Canadian mystery thriller film directed by Mike Barker, co-produced and written by William Morrissey, and starring Pierce Brosnan, Gerard Butler, and Maria Bello. The film's title is an allusion to a line of Alexander Pope's poem "Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot": "Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?" The line is usually interpreted as questioning why someone would put great effort into achieving something minor or unimportant, or who would punish a minor offender with a disproportional punishment.[4]


Chicago residents Neil Randall (Gerard Butler) and his wife, Abby Randall (Maria Bello) have the perfect life and a perfect marriage. With their beautiful young daughter, Sophie, they are living the American dream... until today. When Sophie is suddenly kidnapped, they have no choice but to comply with the abductor's demands. The kidnapper, Tom Ryan (Pierce Brosnan), a cold and calculating sociopath, takes over their lives with the brutal efficiency of someone who has nothing to lose.

In the blink of an eye, Neil and Abby's safe and secure existence is turned upside down. Over the next twenty-four hours they are at the mercy of a man who wants only one thing: that they do his bidding. It soon becomes clear that Ryan's demands are all the more terrifying because he doesn't want their money. What he wants is Neil and Abby's life, the life they have built over 10 years, to be systematically dismantled and destroyed, piece by piece.

With time running out on their little girl, Neil and Abby realize their nightmare is just about to begin. They will have to submit to Ryan's challenges over the next 24-hour period. How far will they go to save the life of their child? They are asked to withdraw money from the bank which Tom burns and throws along with their wallets out of the car. They have to get $300 from nowhere in a part of the town where they don't have any friends. Abby pledges her bracelet and Neil his watch which gets them the $300. They are then asked to deliver a courier to some place within 20 min, and Tom reveals to Neil that the cover contains dirty details of Neil's job, which if leaked will ruin Neil. This goes on, with efforts by them to rescue Sophie from the Hotel, only to get caught by Tom, who makes Abby strip and change in front of them, etc.

The denouement is revealed only in the last few minutes. Neil and Tom's wife (Judy) are colleagues at work and have been having an affair for a while: and Tom has come to know of it. On that day, Neil and Judy were planning to meet for a rendezvous. Tom wants to put Neil through the pain he had undergone and surprisingly Abby plays along with his plan.

Neil lies to Abby when they are returning home that someone else was having an affair with Judy and Tom mistook Neil to be that person, which is why Tom had tormented them the whole day. Abby reveals the details at the very end to Neil, that in truth their daughter has not been kidnapped, she knows of the affair between Neil and Judy, the cover delivered contained only blank sheets, etc. Abby is paying back Neil the pain she went through on learning of the affair and played the game along with Tom.



Pierce Brosnan joined the film's cast in late 2005.[5] Maria Bello and Gerard Butler joined production on 19 January 2006.[6]

Filming began in February 2006 and finished the following May.[3] Vancouver stands in for Chicago but the production shot in the latter city for landscapes before moving to the United Kingdom for post-production.[3] Filming also took place in Los Angeles.[7]


The 2010 Indian Malayalam film Cocktail is an uncredited remake of Butterfly on a Wheel. [8]

The 2014 Indian Tamil film Athithi is also an uncredited remake of Butterfly on a Wheel.[9]


  1. ^ http://freestylereleasing.com/shattered/
  2. ^ Fleming, Michael (13 May 2007). "Bello replaces Weisz in 'Mummy'". Variety. Retrieved 17 May 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c Beiks, Ilona (6 April 2006). "Infinity rolls Wheel with Brosnan". Playback. Retrieved 24 February 2007. 
  4. ^ Thompson, Anne (16 February 2007). "Lionsgate nets U.S. rights to Icon's 'Butterfly'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 23 February 2007. 
  5. ^ "Brosnan crushes Butterfly". Empire. 4 October 2005. Retrieved 24 February 2007. 
  6. ^ Fischer, Martha (19 January 2006). "Butterfly cast expands". Retrieved 24 February 2007. 
  7. ^ Ratny, Ruth L. (27 March 2006). "Five L.A. productions break production dry spell". Retrieved 24 February 2007. 
  8. ^ "Mollywood and the right to copy". The Indian Express. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "Athithi Tamil Movie Review". Scribd. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 

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