A Shock to the System
A Shock to the System (1990)

In this black comedy, middle-aged advertising executive Michael Caine loses his long-awaited promotion to a younger man. In frustration, Caine accidentally pushes a panhandler in front of a subway train -- and he gets away with the death.… More

Directed By:
Rated: R
Running Time:
Release Date: March 23, 1990
DVD Release Date: May 25, 2004
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Critic Score: 68% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: Aided by Michael Caine's finely layered performance, A Shock to the System finds dark comedy in the cutthroat modern business world.

Peter Rainer
Los Angeles Times

What's remarkable is that you come away from the movie laughing at Graham's murderous indiscretions and yet you're frightened by them too. Caine makes you taste the ashes in this black comedy.

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Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel

Egleson and Klavan know exactly what their themes are, and they've got the guts and brains to carry them through. Besides, whenever their efforts flag, Michael Caine's exceptional performance is always a compensation.

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Clark Perry
Tampa Bay Times

There's a lot going for this picture, aside from Caine's winning performance.

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Dave Kehr
Chicago Tribune

What might have seemed bafflingly inconsistent behavior in the hands of a lesser performer is here synthesized by Caine's relaxed and subtle work into a more complex characterization.

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Jay Carr
Boston Globe

It's "How to Succeed in Business" with a vengeance -- a wickedly entertaining black diamond of a satire that reminds us how unobtrusively, elegantly, economically and sympathetically Came can inhabit a character when he's in top form.

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Joe Baltake
Sacramento Bee

Early on the film has some novel observant moments, but they stop coming once the bodies start mounting.

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Ryan Murphy
Miami Herald

Sleek and brimming with giddy cruelty, A Shock to the System has more unexpected turns and twists than the hedge labyrinth in The Shining.

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Joe Pollack
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A thriller should make an audience sit on the edge of its collective seat, waiting tensely for the next moment of action. "A Shock to the System" brings a reaction of "So what," far too early and far too often.

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David Nusair
Reel Film Reviews

...a misguided (and rather misbegotten) adaptation of Brett's superior book.

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More reviews for A Shock to the System

Flixster Audience Score: 63% Flixster User Reviews
Christopher Brown
I hardly remember anything about this film except I loved it. I'd really like to see this one again.