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Shattered: The 'Rotten' Steamy Thriller That Makes John Malkovich Fans Ask Why?

An alumnus of Chicago's venerated Steppenwolf Theater Company, John Malkovich got his start in stage productions like Sam Shepard's "True West" and the Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman." He quickly graduated to film, earning an Academy Award nomination for 1984's "Places in the Heart." Other accolades followed, and today Malkovich is perhaps best known for films like "Dangerous Liaisons," "Burn After Reading," and of course "Being John Malkovich."

So why, Malkovich fans wonder, would the acclaimed actor stoop to be a part of 2022's universally panned "Shattered"? Directed by Luis Prieto, "Shattered" is an erotic thriller starring Cameron Monaghan of "Shameless" fame and Lilly Krug. Monaghan plays Chris Decker, a rich divorcee who is wooed by Krug's blonde femme fatale. In true erotic thriller fashion, Krug's character isn't who she says she is, and the steamy tryst soon turns to violence, with Chris wheelchair bound and held captive.

"Shattered" borrows from everything from "Misery" to "Fatal Attraction" to "Gone Girl," but its impressive well of influences couldn't save it from a paltry 19% Rotten Tomatoes score from critics.

Malkovich is the best part of Shattered

When "Shattered" debuted in 2022, critics largely agreed on the shallow characterization and bland script. As Phil Hoad summarized for The Guardian, "'Shattered' ably ticks genre boxes, but fails to drill into the characters in a way that counts."

Critics also reached a consensus on John Malkovich's small and crackling turn as Ronald, the fatale's skeezy yet affable landlord. Malkovich — who also serves as a co-producer — is clearly having fun in his windbreaker getup, and despite his lofty accolades, the actor is no stranger to silly schlock (let's not forget his performance in "Con Air"). "Malkovich only has a few scenes," wrote Matter Zoller Seitz for RogerEbert.com, "but in every one of them, he indulges in little verbal and physical flourishes...that liven up a dreary experience."

"Shattered" isn't Malkovich's only flop of 2022. That year he appeared in five films, none of which surpassed 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. It could be owing to a new work ethic he adopted after 2008, when the actor lost most of his savings in the Bernie Madoff investment scandal. "We just made changes to the way we lived and the money we spent," Malkovich told The Irish Times in 2020. "I had to do more work that paid for a number of years, and work all the time."

It's possible that "Shattered" is proof that Malkovich will do just about anything, thanks to a post-2008 focus on prolificacy. Or maybe he just really liked the script. "Shattered" does, after all, maintain a 69% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. As Malkovich put it, "I always love working."