Category Archives: simon brett

A Shock to the System


A Video Review of A Shock to the System

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

When you work in a video store you get to know the regular customers pretty well. The subject of conversation is usually movies. What’s good. What’s bad. Sometimes you can become fairly friendly and talk about real stuff. Lisa was one of those regulars. She was and still is a good friend. Her taste in movies however was hideous. So when she recommended A Shock to the System to me as ‘the best movie she’d ever seen’ I dismissed it right away based on the crap she usually rented. Having just seen this Michael Caine epic I owe her an apology. A big apology.


It begins as an office drama a la Wall Street or Working Girl, which would normally put me to sleep. I don’t work in cubicle hell and I don’t want to watch it for entertainment, “Dilbert” be damned. Michael Caine is an aging businessman overlooked for a promotion that goes to a younger more cutthroat man. Circumstances allow him to off his shrewish wife, get into the pants of his secretary and ultimately murder the man who took his job.

This web of lies and destruction is all undercut by Caine’s narration as a man obsessed with a magician analogy. The writing of Andrew Klaven based on the Simon Brett novel is perfect. The direction of Jan Egleson is eclectic and non-stop tension.

It is not often that a murderer is your protagonist and even rarer that you root for him. You actually want Michael Caine to win. You want him to get away with it. This is a credit to the script and of course the talent of Caine himself. Bravo.

A Shock to the System is an excellent film not to be missed. My apologies to Lisa for doubting you.