A Shock to the System (1990) - Rotten Tomatoes

A Shock to the System1990

A Shock to the System (1990)



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

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Movie Info

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. He then begins plotting the murder of several of his corporate enemies.

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Michael Caine
as Graham Marshall
Elizabeth McGovern
as Stella Anderson
Peter Riegert
as Bob Benham
Swoosie Kurtz
as Leslie Marshall
Will Patton
as Lt. Laker
Jenny Wright
as Melanie O'Connor
John McMartin
as George Brewster
Haviland Morris
as Tara Liston
Philip Moon
as Henry Park
Sam Schacht
as David Jones
Christopher Durang
as Convention Speaker
Mia Dillon
as Graham's Secretary
Alice Haining
as Benham's Secretary
Patience Moore
as Wanda Maas
Kent Broadhurst
as Executive
Darrell Wilks
as Mailroom Boy
Zach Grenier
as Executive
Mike Cicchetti
as Beggar in Subway
David Schramm
as Executive
Don Michael Perez
as Transit Cop
John Finn
as Motorman
Tyrone Jackson
as Messenger
Sylvia Marie
as Waitress/Dazzles
Scotty Bloch
as Secretary
Kim Staunton
as Secretary
Alicia Hoge
as Secretary
Elizabeth Morin
as Partygoer
Joe Zaloom
as Hot Dog Vendor
Socorro Santiago
as Rental Car Attendant
Welker White
as Kennel Driver
Frank Ferrara
as Cab Driver
Miguel Pérez
as Transit Cop
Sheila Stainback
as News Anchor Woman
John Freeman
as Decorator
Jim Dratfield
as Additional Dialogue
Fred Ephraim
as Additional Dialogue
Garry Goodrow
as Additional Dialogue
David Kramer
as Additional Dialogue
Craig Sechler
as Additional Dialogue
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Critic Reviews for A Shock to the System

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (14)

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.

April 9, 2021 | Full Review…

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.

April 9, 2021 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

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

April 9, 2021 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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.

April 9, 2021 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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.

April 9, 2021 | Full Review…

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.

April 9, 2021 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for A Shock to the System

I hardly remember anything about this film except I loved it. I'd really like to see this one again.

Christopher  Brown
Christopher Brown

Super Reviewer

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