Movie Review: A Shock to the System

ShockToSystemby Brad Nelson
I found this last night while browsing at random the streamable movies on Netflix. I thought, “What? A Michael Caine movie on Netflix that I haven’t seen? And with the Countess of Grantham in it (Elizabeth McGovern)? I’m there!”

This is a small black comedy, very Michael Caine-esque. It’s from 1990, which is in his prime, in the same decade (more or less) as “Blame it on Rio,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Deathtrap,” and “Educating Rita.” This movie is perhaps not as good as some of those, but it is of respectable quality.

Caine plays a marketing executive who has been passed over for a promotion. Peter Riegert (“Local Hero”) plays Caine’s rival. It’s a fairly small cast, but it works.

This movie is a bit of a think piece. That is, it doesn’t hit you over the head with car chases. It instead has subtle humor and wit. For those who need a thousand volts of constant camera shakes, lens flare, and quick cuts, seek thee elsewhere for the stuff made for the eternal juvenile.

“A Shock to the System” is certainly not a scorching movie by any means. You move through this movie smoothly, no sudden jolts, and certainly none of the usual movie gadgetry. But it remains interesting because you don’t quite know what is going to happen to Caine as he goes about on his own sort of “Falling Down” exposition.

I can’t tell you much more other than that. But I have not seen this exact same movie before. It’s not completely predictable. And some of the dark humor bites well. It’s very 80’s in style (though the movie is officially 1990). Caine is Caine and does his stereotypical voice-over narration through much of it. You get inside his head and share his thinking process.

I think Caine fans (or fans of old movies in general) will like this droll little black comedy of small surprises and satisfying moments of cynical success. • (622 views)

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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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