Review: Sex and murder aren’t enough for retro crime thriller ‘Shattered’

A young man holds out his arm to protect the woman he's walking with a street at night.
Lilly Krug and Cameron Monaghan in the movie “Shattered.”
(Ezra Olson / Lionsgate)

The Times is committed to reviewing theatrical film releases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because moviegoing carries risks during this time, we remind readers to follow health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.

The new thriller “Shattered” is meant to be a throwback to the heyday of R-rated and unrated 1990s genre pictures — the era when movies aimed at adults promised healthy helpings of sex and violence mixed into twisty, pulpy plots. But while “Shattered” director Luis Prieto and screenwriter David Loughery get the surface details right, they fail to deliver what made the likes of “Fatal Attraction” and “Single White Female” so memorable: unforgettable characters in stories crackling with contemporary relevance.

Prieto and Loughery do make an effort, as does their cast. Lilly Krug gets a juicy femme fatale role as Sky, a mysterious seductress who claims to be a former model as she worms her way into the life of Chris (Cameron Monaghan), a reclusive, recently divorced tech mogul. After Chris has an accident that lands him in a wheelchair, Sky becomes his live-in nurse — earning his trust for reasons that may not be so noble.

Krug brings a lot of verve to Sky, but her spiky energy isn’t matched by Monaghan’s Chris, who as written is more of a generic rich drip. There’s much more happening in “Shattered” on the margins, with quirky supporting performances by Ash Santos as Sky’s frazzled roommate (and occasional lover) Lisa and John Malkovich as the ladies’ sleazy, opportunistic landlord. Frank Grillo also brings some spark when he arrives late in the film, playing a pivotal character.

Although “Shattered” is a relatively short movie, it takes too long for Prieto and Loughery to put all these pieces into play — at which point the story belatedly does develop some tension, as we learn more about who these people are and how far they’re willing to go to get what they want. In its first hour, too much of the picture is centered on Chris, who despite the problems in his personal life (like how much he misses his ex-wife and their daughter) just isn’t that compelling a hero.

Granted, Chris’ blandness is part of the point of “Shattered,” which deep in its third act tries to make his wealth and aloofness significant, suggesting that all along this has been a story about how social elites can be dangerously naive and out of touch. But that theme feels tacked on, trying to do what all the earlier scenes of murder and eroticism couldn’t: Give this audience enough of a jolt to keep them engaged for more than a few steamy seconds.



Rated: R for violence, bloody images, sexual content, nudity, and language throughout

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Playing: Starts Jan. 14, Lumiere Music Hall, Beverly Hills; also available on VOD