A fling with a fetching young bartender turns deadly in Shattered, a by-the-numbers home invasion thriller that gets a big boost from hammy turns by both John Malkovich and Frank Grillo, who know exactly what kind of movie they’ve signed up for. The rest of the cast, meanwhile, is left to flounder.
Cameron Monaghan (Shamless, Gotham) stars as a tech millionaire and recent divorcee Chris Decker, who spends his nights drinking bordeaux solo in a cozy mountainside retreat outfitted with an especially high-tech security system. Sasha Luss, excellent in Luc Besson’s underrated Anna, has the thankless role of the ex-wife.
Lilly Krug (Every Breath You Take) is Sky, the bartender who strikes up an intimate relationship with Chris after a chance encounter in a supermarket. Things get hot and heavy real fast, and if Shattered didn’t feel so familiar out of the gate we’d start to worry about the innocent Lilly and this creepy rich guy who lives by himself at an isolated Montana cabin.
Of course, Lilly ain’t so innocent, as Chris soon finds out when he wakes up duct taped to a chair while Lilly demands to know where he keeps the valuables. There might have been some interesting ways to play this, since the film initially tries to build some sympathy for Lilly, but a simple cash-grab wasn’t one of them.
Much of the rest of Shattered is a cat-and-mouse game between Chris, an elite one-percenter, and Lilly, a sociopathic criminal at the other end of the social spectrum. This kind of thing has been done for ages, dating back to at least Ruggero Deodato’s House on the Edge of the Park and up through Eli Roth’s Knock Knock.
And it should deliver some slick thrills to go along with the obvious social commentary. But Shattered doesn’t work, and it’s largely thanks to the lead characterizations: we’re given no reason to care about Chris, and Sky’s sociopath is an inconsistently over-the-top sicko who seems to take her cues from Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn… when the script calls for it.
In other words, Shattered never feels grounded enough to work as a real-world thriller, and even if it did, there’s not much here to care about. But a couple of lively supporting turns help maintain interest while the primary story falters.
John Malkovich stars as Ronald, Sky’s scummy landlord who walks through the film in a bright pastel blue and pink tracksuit. The rest of Shattered never does much to generate atmosphere, but one look at Malkovich’s character and the viewer is instantly transported to a specific time and place.
After Sky bails, leaving a dead girlfriend behind, Ronald finds a telescope in her room pointed directly at Chris’ cabin. How’d the cops miss that? But instead of coming to the rescue of poor Chris, Ronald pervs on Sky for a while before showing up to rob the poor guy for whatever he has left. For much of the running time, Malkovich’s aw-shucks loser, straight out of a Coen Brothers movie, is the best thing Shattered has going for it.
And Frank Grillo shows up late as Sky’s partner-in-crime, a raving mad-dog lunatic that challenges Nicolas Cage at his most over-the-top. His is a genuinely scary persona, as compared to Sky’s fantasy version of a villainess, and could have generated the kind of real-world danger that the rest of Shattered is so sorely lacking.
Shattered is a disappointment from director Luis Prieto, who previously made the 2017 Halle Berry thriller Kidnap, another film that used a familiar setup as a springboard for thrills. While especially silly, Kidnap genuinely delivered on its premise in a way that Shattered simply does not.