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SHATTERED aka Butterfly On A Wheel

  Publicity Stills of "Shattered"
(Courtesy from Cathay-Keris Films)

Genre: Action/Thriller
Director: Mike Barker
Cast: Pierce Bronson, Maria Bello, Gerard Butler, Claudette Mink, Samantha Ferris
Runtime: 1 hr 42 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG (Some Sexual References)
Official Website: http://lionsgate.com/shattered/

Opening Day: 31 January 2008


Neil (Gerard Butler) and Abby (Maria Bello) have a perfect marriage and a worry-free life until their young daughter goes missing and a strange gunman (Pierce Brosnan) named Ryan shows up. Clearly masterminding the kidnapping, Ryan insists the couple perform various tasks for him in order to protect their child from any harm. After they've committed to multiple, strenuous orders, Ryan escalates to a request that may be impossible to fulfill.

Movie Review:

You almost know the drill already. The perfect couple/family whose lives get shattered by one random act of madness, or through the introduction of a stranger who becomes the catalyst to dismantling all comfort zones. There are a number of such films, from Dead Calm, Domestic Disturbance and Unlawful Entry, to even slasher flicks like The Hitcher and Wolf Creek. We watch with anticipation whether our victims can escape from the firm grip they are under, and silently curse each time they turn on each other rather than focusing their energies on saving their own skins.

In most ways, Shattered (the local title for Butterfly On the Wheel) on the surface plays out to that formula. We have the Randalls, Neil (Gerard Butler) and Abbby (Maria Bello) who seem to be living the perfect life of a loving couple with their cute five year old daughter Sophie (Emma Karwandy). Enjoying all the perks that a successful corporate executive gets himself entitled to, Neil is on the brink of a huge promotion, but as we're made to witness, his meteoric rise into his manager's circle of trust, does seem to ruffle a few feathers.

But a man's got to do what a man's got to do and put food on the table, right? Believing that he has provided and met his family's needs, now that smugness is put to the test when Pierce Brosnan's mysterious character hijacks Neil and Abby in their family car, and had kidnapped their precious daughter. And so the games began, with the trump card firmly in his pocket, to make puppets out of the Randalls. Just who this stranger and his primary objective is, doesn't get explained as there isn't have enough room to question why when it becomes a race against time to do his bidding, with tasks designed around humiliation, desperation and confronting one's fears.

There is a method to this madness of course, and most times you're hooked into questioning whether you'll do what Simon Says too, with disobedience promptly punished. The options are laid out and the choice is yours to make, so would you want to be the maverick like Neil, or the obedient Abby to go through 24 hours of hell, hoping that the guarantee that after 24 hours, your daughter will be given back to you?

This thriller is very much character driven, brought to life by three contemporary thespians. It isn't very often watching Brosnan in a role that puts his roguish good looks in an anti-hero role. While we all remember his stint on 007, he has gone on to star in offbeat roles playing characters on the road less travelled, like The Thomas Crown Affair, The Tailor of Panama, or even a sexually ambiguous hitman in The Matador. Here, he puts his well oiled suaveness to good use in being the perfect puppet master, staying ahead of the game not by one but two steps, and giving us that rare treat in hearing him speak in his Irish accent. Gerard ditches his chainmail and gruff shouting voice as Kind Leonidas from 300 for the executive look, now being put through a test of character. Maria Bello rounds up the lead cast with the evergreen maternal role, whose interest lies in protecting her child, no matter the cost. I have to admit though, watching how the couple crumble and pull themselves through each obstacle was engaging, and made even more fun when you slowly realize that there's actually more than meets the eye to every single one of them, especially when it comes to preserving self interest over others.

By the time Shattered comes to a close, unfortunately you'd start to wonder what the fuss is all about. It boils down inevitably to the size of the male ego, and the limits that have been reached that led to the lashing out with something of great but meticulous design. Some might say it's has to be too coincidental for most of the events to even work. For the modern audience who have seen their fair share of twists and turns, we could smell a red herring if we're being presented with one in fairly obvious terms. And the challenge here is for the story to keep us guessing, and try hard to keep itself smart. Alas, there comes some really unnecessary twisty turns, so even if the intention was clear from the start, there's some dramatic license invoked in order to pull it off, which included spelling everything out for the audience. And I mean everything.

Besides spelling everything out, one must also know when to end for impact. Shattered is a movie that would've worked wonders if done some 10 years ago. But with a savvier audience now, I thought the delivery and closure of the final scene really seemed to do the build up and revelation little justice. Still recommended though, should you need your fair share of thrillers, or are a fan of any of the three main leads.

Movie Rating:

(A decent thriller with shattered prospects of greatness)

Review by Stefan Shih


. Running Scared (2007)

. Hostage (2005)

. Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

. After the Sunset (2004)


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