The last film that superb Director Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, In the Line of Fire) ever wrote as well as directed, 1991's SHATTERED is a crazy, sexy mystery that will keep you guessing right up to its final scene.
It also made me raise an eyebrow in disbelief and throw out a couple verbal "Oh come on, man!" comments at the screen as it stretches the limits of coincidence and calculation.
After a horrifying car crash off the cliffs of the San Francisco coast, Dan Merrick (Tom Beringer) is left shredded by his windshield and without any memories of his life pre-accident.
His wife Judith (Greta Scacchi) is thrown free of the vehicle early in its plunge and escapes serious injury. She's left to nurse her husband back to health.
Dan is racked by nightmares and memories of things that make no sense to him.
Corbin Bernsen (LA Law) is Jeb, Dan's business partner at their engineering/architecture firm. He's appropriately slimy in that uber wealthy 80's style of promiscuous greed that creates confusion. Is there something nefarious going on here or is Jeb just a bad guy?
When his memory confuses him more and more as bits and pieces resurface, Dan seems no closer to getting a grip on his past. He hires a pet shop owner/private detective named Gus Klein that appears to have done work for him in the past.
Bob Hoskins (The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa) is the best part of the movie, acting circles around everyone else as the eccentric, savvy Gus is pulled into a very tricky path of discovery.
Petersen's entire concept of mystery/identity/sex/murder would reach its zenith the following year with Paul Verhoeven's brilliant "Basic Instinct", a far superior take on similar material, but there's plenty to enjoy here.
Berenger (Platoon, The Big Chill) is the perfect Jimmy Stewart style every-man caught in the middle of an intricate web. Joanne Whalley (Willow) is a seductive neighbor who seems to know an awful lot about Dan's past and the final half hour is an absolute mad dash to a conclusion that's so wacky that five minutes after it's over you start bouncing questions around like...."Wait a minute, would my asthma inhaler do that?" or "but why was so much of that on a ship to begin with....?"
Petersen's gift is that he straps you in, hits the gas, throws another false lead or sex scene in your face every time you might have time to think too much.
Like a roller coaster, you might question if it was worth the wait when the damn thing stops, but until then, you're going to have a screaming good time.
SHATTERED decodes a solid, enjoyable, adult B.
Petersen would go on to much bigger success and thrills with his next film, Clint Eastwood's fantastic "In the Line of Fire".