Shattered (1991 film)

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Shattered poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Produced by Wolfgang Petersen
John Davis
David Korda
Written by Screenplay:
Wolfgang Petersen
Richard Neely
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography László Kovács
Edited by Glenn Farr
Hannes Nikel
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer
Release date
  • October 11, 1991 (1991-10-11)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22 million
Box office $11,511,031

Shattered is a 1991 American neo-noir/psychological thriller starring Tom Berenger, Greta Scacchi, Bob Hoskins, Joanne Whalley and Corbin Bernsen. It was directed and written for the screen by Wolfgang Petersen, based on the novel by Richard Neely.


While driving at night along the northern California coast, architect Dan Merrick (Tom Berenger) and wife Judith (Greta Scacchi) are involved in a car wreck. Dan suffers major injuries and brain trauma, resulting in psychogenic amnesia. After extensive plastic surgery, Dan returns home in Judith's care.

Dan relies on those close to him to help him restore his past, including his business partner Jeb Scott (Corbin Bernsen) and Jeb's wife, Jenny (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer). Dan has frequent flashbacks he believes to be events that led up to the car crash.

Dan finds discrepancies in the stories about his former self. He stumbles upon photographs of Judith sleeping with another man. Dan finds an expensive bill to a pet store and follows up with its proprietor, Gus Klein (Bob Hoskins). Gus says the payment was for services provided as a private investigator to follow Judith, and it revealed she was cheating with Jack Stanton (Scott Getlin).

Judith arranges a meeting with Stanton and Dan follows her. Judith stops at an old shipwreck slated for removal by Dan's company. Assuming the wreck is a key in remembering his past, Dan has its removal postponed.

Jeb's wife Jenny accuses Judith of planning the accident to eliminate Dan. As he works with Gus to keep tabs on his wife with a wiretap, Dan tails her to a hotel where she and Stanton are to meet, but Stanton leaves and a chase ensues through a wooded area. After gunshots are fired from Stanton's car, Dan and Gus crash while Stanton escapes.

That night at home, Dan arms himself and lies in wait. At gunpoint, an intruder is revealed as Judith disguised as Stanton. She explains that Stanton is actually dead, killed by Dan on the night of the accident. Judith had intended to stop the affair with Stanton. Judith says she and Dan covered up the murder by disposing of Stanton's body in the shipwreck. When Dan reveals he postponed the ship's removal, Judith becomes hysterical and suggests they should flee.

Dan receives a phone call from Jenny imploring him to see her, but Dan finds Jenny dead. He is confronted at gunpoint by Gus, who thinks Dan must have murdered Stanton. Pleading for his life, Dan convinces Gus to visit the shipwreck, where they find a chemical storage container. Dan dredges up a body of a man who looks exactly like himself. Dan realizes he is not Dan Merrick; he is Jack Stanton.

An abusive Dan confronted his wife Judith with evidence of her infidelity. She called for help and Jack raced to her home, arriving too late to prevent her from shooting her husband. Jack wanted to go to the police, but Judith convinced him to cover up the murder and hide Dan's body. After doing so, Jack told Judith he wanted out of the relationship. This angered and distracted Judith, who drove into the car wreck.

Judith had banked on the chemical dissolving Dan's body, but because it was actually Formaldehyde, she had preserved it. Gus is shot by Judith, who forces Jack to leave with her. She drives erratically down the same stretch of road from the night of the accident.

She hid the facts from Jack so he'd have plausible deniability. After the crash, plastic surgeons assumed the man she was with was her husband Dan. Distracted by a police helicopter, Judith loses control of the gun. Judith decides to kill them in a murder-suicide car crash. Jack rolls out, while she plummets to her death.

The police helicopter lands, and an injured Gus Klein emerges. The two board the helicopter and fly away, as Judith and her car burn at the bottom of the cliff.


Critical reception[edit]

As of 2017, on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has scored "31%" on its "Tomatometer" based on thirteen reviews. "56%" of Rotten Tomatoes audience members (5,346 users) have stated that they "liked it", giving the film a "3 1/5" average on the website.[1]

In 2005 Indian movie Yakeen was a literal remake of Shattered. In Vietnam, the film Inferno (Giao Lo Dinh Menh) could be seen as the latest remake of Shattered.

The film's twist ending has caused a division among the responses given by critics. Several critics find the revelation too ridiculous to accept, while others find it inventive and clever. Roger Ebert falls into the former category, stating that the film's resolution is "inconceivably implausible," and that the "screenplay is too clever by half." However, he goes on to say that this quality "is always sort of fun."[2] falls into the latter category, calling the finale "a killer twist ending!"[1] and the Washington Post says, "It would be disastrous to even hint at the movie's denouement; a critic could get lynched for giving away an ending as shockingly unexpected as the one here. Let's just say that it blows the top of your head off."[3] Despite this division, critics generally hold the film's surprise denouement as unexpected and startling, though whether it is too clever for its own good is debatable and left up to the viewer.

Technical notes[edit]

  • Awards: Deauville Film Festival - Nominated - Critics Award.
  • Film Locations:
    • Oregon: Nehalem, Tillamook County; Oswald West State Park; Neahkahnie Mountain.
    • California: Mount Tamalpais State Park, Marin County; City and County of San Francisco; Sausalito, Marin County.[4]
  • Release Date: October 11, 1991
  • Box Office:
    • Opening Weekend: $3,457,105 (1,286 theaters, $2,688 average)[5]
    • Total Gross: $11,511,031
  • Songs Used:


  1. ^ a b Staff. "Shattered (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes by Flixster. Flixster, Inc. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Roger Ebert (11 October 1991). "Shattered". Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Hal Hinson (11 October 1991). "'Shattered' (R)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  4. ^ Staff (1997–2011). "SHATTERED". Film in America. Film in America. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Staff. "Shattered". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 

External links[edit]