Shattered goes to pieces almost instantly. A far-fetched thriller about unlikable characters, Wolfgang Petersen’s debut American feature aspires to Hitchcockian suspense and surprise, but the parade of hokey implausibilities puts the viewer off rather than drawing one in.
Petersen assembled an attractive cast to populate his adaptation of Richard Neely’s novel The Plastic Nightmare, a project he was contemplating even before his breakthrough success with Das Boot 10 years earlier. Unfortunately, the roles the actors fill are nearly all unappetizing or uninteresting, leaving the audience with no emotional investment in their fates.
A devastating car wreck leaves an upscale Bay Area real estate developer (Tom Berenger) a disfigured mess, although his wife (Greta Scacchi) escapes virtually unscathed. Although plastic surgery restores his good looks, husband’s memory is a blank. Berenger eventually learns that he and his wife weren’t getting along well before the accident and that she was having an affair with a certain Jack Stanton. Enter a private detective (Bob Hoskins), enlisted to help Berenger try to figure everything out.
Berenger manages character’s outward anguish and bafflement but is not one who makes himself vulnerable enough to invite the viewer into his skin or mind. The ever-gorgeous Scacchi has the meatiest role, that of a scheming liar accustomed to always getting her way, but full, Bette Davis-style impact of the role is missed. Hoskins enlivens things as a p.i. who works out of a pet shop.