10 February 2009

DVD: "Shattered"

Directed by Mike Barker
Written by William Morrissey
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Maria Bello and Gerard Butler
DVD Release Date: 25 December 2007
MPAA Rating: R (For Some Language and Violence)
List Price: $14.98

The Film
Someone decided that the original film title, Butterfly on a Wheel, would confuse American audiences and so it was re-titled Shattered for its release in the States.  The original title references the medieval acts of torture involving large wheels used to destroy human bodies as painfully as possible.  Obviously, using one on a butterfly would be complete overkill, and that's the idea behind this film.  Just as the Neil and Abby Randall (Butler and Bello) are going away for separate weekend getaways, their daughter is kidnapped in a plot engineered by Tom Ryan (Brosnan, in an unsettlingly sinister performance).  Ryan torments and taunts the Randalls, and his motivation for targeting them is part of the mystery.  As far as suspense thrillers go, this has several plot twists, moves at a brisk clip and works well because the three leads all turn in solid performances.  The focus is less on the action, and more on the characters--this is an intimate thriller, and more effective because of the emphasis on these three people.

Shattered features a rarity among commentary tracks: the director and the writer narrate together.  They nitpick shots that either of them opposed, praise the other's suggestions that worked and frequently fall into fits of either silence or laughter.  There is a brief featurette including remarks made by the lead actors, director, writer and other key crew members about the production, and another, briefer one discussing how Pierce Brosnan came to play the heavy of this film in his post-Bond career.  There are two deleted scenes and three alternate ones, including a different opening that is interesting if for no other reason than it has place-holder credits.  Commentary would have been nice for the removed scenes, though these are addressed in the feature commentary.

The Recommendation
Neither my wife nor I had even heard of this film until we discovered it as an available title in a Redbox vending machine last spring.  For $1.00, it was certainly worthy of a rental, and we found it on sale at Best Buy for $3.99 last summer.  The list price is $14.98 and while I might recommend it at that price as a blind buy for fans of the leads (especially Brosnan or Bello), I would suggest hunting for it on sale for others.  At the very least, this should go in your Netflix rental queue.

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