6.7/10
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A Shock to the System (1990)

Trailer
1:59 | Trailer
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 »

Director:

Jan Egleson

Writers:

Simon Brett (novel), Andrew Klavan (screenplay)
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... Graham Marshall
Elizabeth McGovern ... Stella Anderson
Peter Riegert ... Robert Benham
Swoosie Kurtz ... Leslie Marshall
Will Patton ... Lt. Laker
Jenny Wright ... Melanie O'Conner
John McMartin ... George Brewster
Barbara Baxley ... Lillian
Haviland Morris ... Tara Liston
Philip Moon ... Henry Park
Kent Broadhurst ... Executive #1
Zach Grenier ... Executive #2
David Schramm ... Executive #3
Sam Schacht Sam Schacht ... David Jones
Christopher Durang 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. Sir Michael Caine delivers an electrifying performance as Graham Marshall, who quickly catches onto the possibilities as he clears all the hurdles 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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of three 1990 theatrical movies, starring Sir Michael Caine, which were released in that year. The other movies were: Bullseye! (1990) and Mr. Destiny (1990). All three movies were failures at the box-office. In 1990, Caine also headlined the television movie Jekyll & Hyde (1990). Of these four productions, this movie was the only one in which Caine did not play dual roles, or multiple characters. See more »

Goofs

Lt. Laker questions Stella 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

Featured in Premio Donostia a Michael Caine (2000) See more »

User Reviews

 
Climbing to the top... by any means.
21 April 2019 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

All that hard work, dreaming of that well-deserved promotion, by putting in everyday. Starting from scratch working your way to the top. Just one step to go. One step up that ladder. However sometimes dreams aren't meant to be, no matter the effort you put in and the confidence you bestow. Someone else comes in and snatches it right under your nose. You were that sure of yourself, focused right in, everyone talking you up, even your wife. It was yours. Eyes on the prize, but you didn't realize what was happening around you. There was unknown competition from within. Someone you trusted. Now that high hits rock bottom. Your pride is shot. Until you realise it's all clockwork in this dog eat dog world. No sitting back. Make it happen... by any means.

"A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM" feeds off it, by presenting a dry, biting drama with a violent twist. Filled with dark understated humor, personal psychosis and merciless corporate satire a seasoned New York marketing executive turns to murder, after an incident in the subway to resolve those "difficulties". So he goes about setting up one fatal accident after another, in the process of making his life easier and to get that position... he deserved. But one little slip-up could see it all come crashing down.

Directed with style, cinematography showed elasticity and a score vigorously on key. However the thing that stood out was Michael Caine... pretty much doing his usual Michael Caine shtick. He's the life of the party here, pitch-perfect in delivery. His likable, laidback persona gets used, and downtrodden on. The anger is released with some venomous sprays. Knowing now, getting what he wants he needs to be coldly calculative, sly, string people along and thinking outside the box (possibly murder) to make it happen. His interactions with Swoosie Krutz (playing his materialistic wife) were some of the best moments. Sometimes the plot can be a little too elaborate in the consequences and suspicions (prying detective), but it did catch me off guard. I didn't expect the finale to go down the path it did. Fortune favors the brave in this heartless, controlled corporate world.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 March 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Shock to the System - Tappaminen on helppoa See more »

Filming Locations:

Essex Fells, New Jersey, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,002,158, 25 March 1990

Gross USA:

$3,417,056

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,417,056
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Brigand Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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