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A Shock To The System 1990

Reviewing: First Look Pictures Region 1 (Us & Canada)  |  Rating:
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Graham Marshall (Michael Caine) is a calm, hard-working business executive who hopes to get a well-deserved promotion. His demanding wife (Swoosie Kurtz) hopes he gets it too; although Graham is rather successful, she always wants more, and always finds something to gripe about. To his shock, Graham discovers in the last moment that he is passed over by a snotty younger co-worker Robert Benham (Peter Riegert). What makes the blow even harder is that Benham, among others, used to assure Graham that the promotion would be his.

Understandably upset, Graham can't get over this letdown. One night he is waiting for a subway train, and a homeless man starts annoying him asking for money. Probably for the first time in his life, Graham gets angry enough to push the man away. It so happens that the man falls onto the tracks and gets killed by the train. Graham rushes home, terrified. Then something clicks: he has killed a man and gotten away with it. No one saw it; there will be no consequences. From a mild-tempered, law-abiding man Graham turns into a cold-blooded, calculating killer and starts changing things in his life he wants to be changed. First, he bumps off his pest of a wife. The back-stabber Benham and his mean sidekick Parks get it next.

This smart thriller has also been called a dark comedy. I can partly agree with this definition, although I do not find it very funny; only some moments carry dry humor. I do love Michael Caine's performance though, he steals the movie and makes it his own, winning you over. His character is killing people, yet you don't want him to get caught. You know it's wrong, but you cheer for him and feel glad that the investigator is so frustrated he is ready to give up. The movie's dialogue is another strong part - sharp and to the point.