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A Shock to the System (1990)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Thriller  |  23 March 1990 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 2,860 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 16 critic

When you think you're at the top of the corporate ladder and then discover they have managed to pull that ladder away, sometimes you have to take it upon yourself to 'level' the playing ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Graham Marshall
...
Stella Anderson
...
Robert Benham
...
Leslie Marshall
...
Lt. Laker
...
Melanie O'Conner
...
George Brewster
Barbara Baxley ...
Lillian
...
Tara Liston
...
Henry Park
Kent Broadhurst ...
Executive #1
...
Executive #2
...
Executive #3
Sam Schacht ...
David Jones
Christopher Durang ...
Convention Speaker
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Storyline

When you think you're at the top of the corporate ladder and then discover they have managed to pull that ladder away, sometimes you have to take it upon yourself to 'level' the playing field, both professionally and personally. Michael Caine delivers an electrifying performance as Graham Marshall, who quickly catches onto the possibilities as he clears all the hurtles to occupy the corner office. Written by Edgy01

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Climbing the corporate ladder can be murder. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 March 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Abrakadabra  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$3,417,056 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was made and first released about six years after its source novel of the same name by Simon Brett had been first published in 1984. See more »

Goofs

A detective questions Michael Caine's secretary and writes down his telephone number on a piece of notepad paper for her. Later, when she decides to call him, she has his business card. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Graham Marshall: It all began one night when the lights went out.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Ax (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Crime DOES Pay if You Kill Horrible People!!!

Who says Michael Caine is a so-so actor? He plays the perfect combination of a truly nice guy ground down by his shrewish wife, his slimy peer-then-boss, and corporate life, in general. Movies like this give us corporate slaves a little relief from the utter amoral depravity of the 'civilized' world we inhabit in these rabbit warrens, otherwise known as 'Cubical Hell'.

This man makes you completely sympathize with every one of his murders, all nicely planned to look like accidents. In fact, I am amazed that some lawyer hasn't pulled the 'Shock to the System' defense. Certainly, it has as much attraction for the frustrated as the films usually blamed. It's just more subtle, more high-brow and takes a little more finesse.

The detective is wonderfully nosy, but how he can walk up to Caine in the middle of New York City is quite amazing to me. A little too much dramatic license, too much coincidence to be believable but you tend to forget your logical approach to life.

Reality is easily suspended as Caine gets in his licks for all the humuliations we nice people have suffered in the corporate world, where the rapacious are rewarded by CEO salaries. The laughs are fast and furious, all delivered in that great understated British fashion.

Mr. Downtrodden gets his licks in and when the new boss talks about his Cessna, you've already fixed the engine. There are traces of 'The Ruling Class' in here, as Mr. Nice Guy becomes king of the mountain by firing everyone 'who is not a contributor', thus ingratiating himself with Mr. Cessna. McGovern gives her Basset hound, soulful looks all through the film, and you feel her conflict about turning this wonderful guy in. She is promoted out and away, and all is well, which is usual for corporate shenanigans. They just usually don't involve murder.

Buy it and love it. Forget the professional reviewers for once on this. It's not meant to be 'Hamlet'.


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