Amazon is getting to be a treasure chest of watchable movies, and I much appreciate it. We picked up the service three years ago when cable TV started to become unreasonable, and Amazon is one of several pay-for items we subscribed. A recent news item that flashed by me recently noted that Amazon has five times as many movies as Netflix, but that likely includes Amazon’s pay for play selections. For the coming seasons I will not be purchasing any movies and for this series will be reviewing only theatrical productions I have already paid for on the streaming services.
That said, be advised the Wednesday series does not consist of purely bad movies. Wednesday’s movies tend to be recent productions, and especially they are ones with some redeeming qualities. However, every movie has some plot seepage, some faulty directing, that I will point out, just in case you might be thinking of investing your time with one.
This is Shattered from 2007, and it stars:
- Pierce Brosnan – Tom Ryan
- Gerard Butler – Neil Randall
- Maria Bello – Abby Randall
- Callum Keith Rennie – Detective McGrath
- Dustin Milligan – Matt Ryan
- Claudette Mink – Judy Ryan
Details are from Wikipedia.
The opening sequence shows the happy Randall family, Neil, Abby, and their cute daughter Sophie in their happy home in suburban Chicago. It also shows that producers William Vince, William Morrissey, and Pierce Brosnan spent all the money on top talent, leaving little to hire a top agency to do the titles. Apparently, as the final cuts were being made, somebody told the second under secretary to the producer to get hold of the IT geek and have him type up the lettering. Arial narrow was good enough.
Anyhow, the Randall’s are preparing for separate outings, and a super sitter for Sophie has been arranged. Neil goes off to work at his downtown Chicago advertising job as Shifty Tom Ryan watches from a roof top.
Neil may be Mr. Nice Guy at home, but at work he is a shark. In short years at the firm he has worked his way upward through hook and through crook, weaseling out the rewards for the contributions of others. Here he almost gloats as he is assigned the final presentation to a client while a co-worker looks on in disgust.
After work Neil and Abby head off from the house in their Land Rover. Suddenly shifty tom Ryan appears in the back seat, and he points a pistol at them. Sofie is in the care of a phony sitter, and she will be killed if they don’t follow his advise.
He first advises them to withdraw all their money, $142,000, from the bank and to return to the car with the cash in a valise he has provided. They do that, but after the car gets going Tom opens the valise, withdraws some of the cash, and sets it on fire. Then he throws the valise bull of burning cash into the Chicago river as they cross a bridge.
There begins a sequence of humiliating performances the Randalls must execute, else Sophie will die. Tom hands Abby an envelope and directs her to take it to the office of one of Neil’s clients. Then he forces Neil to drive to a parking garage, where they watch as Abby hands over the envelope to the client. Tom has revealed to Neil the envelope contains evidence he pilfered the client’s information to gain a contract. With the envelope passing into the client’s hands, Neils career is finished, and he will likely go to jail.
Tom tricks Neil and Abby into breaking into a hotel room, thinking that Sophie is being held there. But Tom is there before them, and he forces Abby to undress and to put on a slinky red dress. Then she leaves with Tom after he gives directions for Neil to go to the top of a nearby building. There Neil observes as Tom forces Abby leave with him in the car.
But it is yet another ruse perpetrated by Tom. He forces Neil to drive to a remote cabin, where Neil’s mistress, Judy, has been waiting for his arrival. That had been Neil’s plan for the night while Abby was out on her own. Tom gives the pistol to Neil and instructs him to go inside and shoot Judy.
But Neil notices a photo of Tom on the fireplace mantel, and Judy tells him that Tom is her husband. Neil is being forced to murder Tom’s wife to save his daughter. Neil is reluctant, but Tom walks in and delivers a final ultimatum. Neil points the pistol at Judy’s head and pulls the trigger. Click!
It was a final trick. Tom had unloaded the gun. Now Tom reveals his scheme. He found out Neil had been punching Judy’s ticket, and this is his revenge on Neil and Judy. He allows Neil to leave with Abby, who has remained in the car all the time.
On the way home Abby demands an explanation, and Neil blames the whole thing on his bos, who, he claims, has been having an affair with Tom’s wife. Only it has all been a mistake. Tom had the wrong person.
Back at the house they find that Sofie is safe in bed. There never was any abduction. The sitter was legitimate. Abby knows this, because she carefully chose the sitter. It has been a plot cooked up with Tom after she discovered Neil had been screwing around.
And that’s the end of the movie, except it is now revealed that Tom did nor burn all the money, because Abby did not withdraw it from the bank. Tom burned some fakes and threw the evidence off the bridge.
The evidence Abby handed over to the client was a folder of blank pages. Neils’s career is not ended, and he will not go to jail. He still has his money. He still has his job. He still has his daughter. But, Abby asks, “Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?” I found that last line to be cryptic. Wikipedia has the answer. Butterfly on a Wheel is the original title of the movie:
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.
The weakness in the plot is that events must thread the needle so finely and so often that there is not a lot to believe Neil could have unraveled the whole thing any number of times by calling Tom’s bluff. Abby and Tom counted simultaneously on Neil’s perfidy and his humanity, seemingly contradictory impulses.
On a final note…
This blog draws maybe 150 hits per day. Granted, some items, e.g., “Food Babe,” have pulled 1500 reads in a single day, but movie reviews are not a main interest of Skeptical Analysis.
On the other hand, the Specular Photo blog has over 100 followers, and routinely pulls a chunk of readers every time I post something—anything. As long as people are reading I should start providing more stuff to read. There is a passel of classic movies out there, and they deserve serious review. I will also be reviewing TV content and non-theatrical movies, e.g., Amazon productions. Click on over to the photo blog and start following. I promise some serious reviews starting soon. As soon as I catch up on the reading assignments for the philosophy course I am auditing.