A Shock to the System

Watch A Shock to the System

"Climbing the corporate ladder can be murder."
  • R
  • 1990
  • 1 hr 31 min
  • 6.6  (5,690)
  • 69

A Shock to the System is a dark comedy thriller movie from 1990, directed by Jan Egleson and starring Michael Caine, Elizabeth McGovern, and Peter Riegert. The plot revolves around Graham Marshall (Michael Caine), a middle-aged executive who works in a high-pressure environment and is passed over for a promotion at a big advertising firm in New York City. After this demotion, Marshall undergoes a transformation and becomes a ruthless killer, disposing of anyone who stands in his way.

The movie opens with Graham Marshall commuting to work in the morning, where he is seen jostling through the crowds to reach his workplace. He is a polite and unassuming man who always tries his best to please everyone. But his hard work doesn't pay off when a younger, less experienced colleague gets the big promotion instead of him. Graham feels understated and ignored, and he starts resenting his hardworking and unappreciated existence.

One day, Graham is stuck in traffic when he witnesses a man's suicide. The man, whom Graham did not know, was losing his job and his entire life savings. This event sparks something in Graham's mind. He starts to devise a brutal plan to get what he wants, plotting to eliminate anyone who stands in his way. He starts with his overbearing wife, played by Swoosie Kurtz. He kills her by taking advantage of her fear of heights, then manages to convince the police it was an accident.

Encouraged by his success, Graham kills his rival, played by Peter Riegert, and frames it as if it was a suicide. Then he starts targeting others, such as an old acquaintance he meets on a train, and a younger and more attractive colleague, played by Elizabeth McGovern, to whom he is attracted to. He uses his charm and wit to convince them that his plans are in their best interest.

As the movie unfolds, Graham becomes more and more detached from reality as he continues to murder his colleagues and friends. He hides his true personality from everyone and is able to manipulate those around him into following his twisted path. Michael Caine delivers an outstanding performance, portraying Graham's sociopathic tendencies and his subtle manipulation to perfection.

The movie creates an air of tension, as the audience can sense that Graham will eventually get caught, but never knows when. It is a cautionary tale of what can happen when working professionals are pushed to the brink and how they might act in desperation.

The film employs a witty and humorous approach to its central theme, while still maintaining the darker nature of the plot. The script is excellent, with dialogue that keeps the audience engaged and suspenseful, while the cast gives impressive performances, making the plot believable and authentic.

Overall, A Shock to the System is a well-written and engaging thriller that showcases Michael Caine's superb acting ability, and a classic example of a twisted plot, that although from the plot summary are immoral to the core, still manages to entertain the audience. The movie is smart, funny, and dark, making it a must-watch for fans of thrillers and crime dramas, and for anyone who enjoys a bit of dark humor.

A Shock to the System is a 1990 crime movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 31 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.6 and a MetaScore of 69.

A Shock to the System
Where to Watch A Shock to the System
A Shock to the System is available to watch free on Peacock, The Roku Channel Free, Pluto TV, Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Fandor and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent A Shock to the System for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 31 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.6  (5,690)
  • Metascore