A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM
Release Date: March 23, 1990
Starring: Michael Caine, Elizabeth
McGovern, Peter Reigert,
Swoosie Kurtz, Jenny Wright,
Phillip Moon, Will Patton
Runtime: 91 minutes
Distributor: Corsair Pictures
Director: Jan Egleson
Producer: Patrick McCormick
Writer: Andrew Klavan & Alice
Arlen NOVEL BY: Simon Brett
Address Comments To:
To Graham, the "American Dream" has gone awry. The amoral have taken control and robbed the responsible of what is rightfully theirs. Saddled with a nagging wife, a monumental mortgage and a continual battle to stay afloat financially, Graham is swamped by the trappings of success. Then, the unthinkable occurs: Bob Benham, an arrogantly aggressive, ambitious yuppie, gets the promotion that Graham has been coveting.
Graham's dreams crumble. Distraught and frantic, he is out of control. When a panhandler refuses to leave him alone, he accidentally knocks him out of the way and into the path of an oncoming subway train. Horrified that he has killed a man, Graham flees panic-stricken. The police take no notice of him.
Graham's thoughts turn to murder when he realizes that "accidents" more carefully planned will be the path to success for him. First, he gets rid of his nagging wife. Then, he sells his suburban home and moves into a Manhattan bachelor pad. He sets his sights on eliminating Bob Benham, who has moved his computer-wiz informant into Graham's private office.
Graham, meanwhile, develops a promiscuous relationship with Stella. However, Stella begins to suspect the truth about Graham, only to find herself in danger as well...
In a witty and caustic parable of corporate greed, the film examines business mores and ethics in America today. It looks at what happens when people are forced to retire before their time, shoved out the door by the time they're fifty -- undoubtedly "a shock to the system" for Graham, as was his accidental killing of the panhandler. The movie, which tries to be humorous as well as suspenseful, wrongly shows that if one can commit a crime and not get caught, anything goes. The only problem with that reasoning is that the Bible says your sins will find you out.
The cinematography is impressive, as long, fluid continuous shots deftly convey the sense of Graham's corporate world gone out of control. The stylized realism works well. Also worthy of note is the clever use of words.
Too bad that the rest of the film is filled with "haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among his brothers" (Proverbs 6:17-19). At one point, Graham recounts to Stella what his father told him as a boy, "Son, there is no heaven. Here is the closest we will ever get."
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please pray that those involved with the film will stumble upon 1 John 2:15, "Do not love the world nor anything in the world."