World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Shattered (1991 film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Produced by Wolfgang Petersen
John Davis
David Korda
Written by Screenplay:
Wolfgang Petersen
Richard Neely
Starring Tom Berenger
Bob Hoskins
Greta Scacchi
Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
Corbin Bernsen
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography László Kovács
Edited by Glenn Farr
Hannes Nikel
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer
Release dates
  • October 11, 1991 (1991-10-11)
Running time
98 miutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22 million
Box office $11,511,031

Shattered is a 1991 Hitchcockian 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.


  • Plot summary 1
  • Cast 2
  • Critical reception 3
  • Technical notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Plot summary

While driving at night along the northern California coast, architect Dan Merrick (Tom Berenger) and wife Judith (Greta Scacchi) are involved in a violent car wreck. Dan suffers major injuries and significant 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). While recovering, Dan has frequent flashbacks of imagery he believes to be events that led up to his fateful car crash.

Dan finds discrepancies in the stories about his "former self." He stumbles upon photographs showing Judith sleeping with another man. At his office, Dan finds an expensive bill he paid to a pet store and follows up by visiting its proprietor, Gus Klein (Bob Hoskins). Gus informs him that the payment was actually for services provided as a private investigator. Gus says he was hired by Dan to follow Judith, and that his investigation had revealed she was indeed cheating on him with a man named Jack Stanton (Scott Getlin).

Judith arranges a meeting with Stanton, which Dan overhears. He follows her. Judith stops at the site of an old shipwreck slated for removal by Dan's company to make way for a real estate development. 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 heavily 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 to be Judith disguised as Stanton. She explains that Stanton is actually dead, killed by Dan on the night of the accident. According to Judith, she had intended to stop the affair with Stanton, but Dan murdered him before knowing this.

Judith says she and Dan decided to cover 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 both should flee.

Dan receives a frantic phone call from Jenny imploring him to see her. Upon arriving, Dan finds Jenny dead. He is confronted at gunpoint by Gus, who now thinks Dan must have murdered Stanton. Pleading for his life, Dan convinces Gus to visit the shipwreck.

There they find a chemical storage container. Dan dredges up a body of a man who looks exactly like himself -— Dan Merrick. In a moment of clarity brought on by this shocking development, Dan suddenly realizes he is not Dan Merrick —- he is, in truth, Jack Stanton.

Flooded with flashbacks, Jack pieces together the real events that led up to the accident: An abusive Dan confronted his wife Judith with evidence of her infidelity. She called for help and Jack raced to her home, arriving moments 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 the two into the spectacular car wreck.

Judith had banked on the chemical on the ship dissolving Dan's body, but because it was actually Formaldehyde, she had preserved it. Gus observes this and is shot by Judith, who had followed them. Judith now forces Jack to leave with her at gunpoint. She drives erratically down the same stretch of road the two did the night of the accident.

She claims she hid the facts from Jack so he'd have plausible deniability. After the crash, plastic surgeons simply assumed the man she was with was her husband Dan, so she went along with this. Distracted by a police helicopter, Judith loses control of the gun. Out of options, Judith decides to kill both of them in a murder-suicide car crash. Jack rolls out at the last second, while she plummets to her death on the shoreline below.

The police helicopter lands, and an injured — but alive — Gus Klein emerges. Jack doesn't correct him when Gus says, in front of a police officer, "C'mon Dan, it's over." The two board the helicopter and fly away, as Judith and her car burn at the bottom of the cliff.


Critical reception

As of 2015, on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has scored "31%" on its "Tomatometer" based on thirteen reviews. "57%" of Rotton Tomatoes audience members (4,315 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

  • 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

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.