Melodramatic 'Shattered' looks good but won't wash

October 11, 1991|By Philip Wuntch | Philip Wuntch,Dallas Morning News

For its first two-thirds, "Shattered" is a nice, elegant, completely preposterous thriller.

Personal confrontations are accompanied by torrents of rain. Magnificent homes are located near the seashore, apparently so the viewer can thrill to the pounding surf. No opportunity for melodramatic embellishment is overlooked.

The film starts ominously, with a car accident that almost kills successful businessman Dan Merrick. His beautiful wife, Judith, miraculously survives with minor injuries, but Dan must undergo extensive surgery. When he comes out of his coma, he has amnesia.

Judith lovingly nurses Dan back to relative normalcy. But Dan learns some unpleasant things about himself. Before the accident, he was a ruthless businessman and cold-hearted husband. And there are some erotic photos he discovers of Judith and another man. His abrasive business partner, Jeb, and Jeb's discontented wife, Jenny, hint pointedly at sexual misconduct on everyone's part.

Dan, now a perfectly decent sort of guy in the tradition of the

rejuvenated heroes of "Regarding Henry" and "The Doctor," faces a past filled with crooked business dealings, adultery and maybe even murder.

Wolfgang Petersen, whose credits include "Das Boot" and "The Neverending Story," must have been in a lightheaded mood when he wrote and directed this lush-looking fluff.

Tom Berenger looks appropriately bewildered and vulnerable as Dan, who may have discovered human decency too late. Greta Scacchi makes a completely believable "mystery woman" as Judith.

Bob Hoskins plays the eccentric gumshoe as if he were still doing "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" -- which, in effect, he is,

although no one is complaining.

Before its berserk conclusion, "Shattered" is a cheesy but entertaining exercise in paranoia.

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