When Alan Masters (Treat Williams) successfully handles her divorce case Dianne (Embeth Davidtz) couldn't be happier especially as the charming Alan whisks her off her feet and after she falls pregnant they end up getting married. But it is then that Dianne begins to discover the truth about her husband, not only is he heavily connected to the mob and has much of the police force in his pocket but he is also a controlling, abusive man who seems to almost enjoy hurting her. Having met Dianne once when her mother went to the police over fears for her safety Sergeant John Reed (Brian Dennehy) is put on the case when she is found dead at the bottom of a river in a car. But with Masters' connections working for him things are not easy for Reed.
I reckon I must have been about 2 hours into "Shattered Promises", or "Deadly Matrimony" as it is also known, when the penny dropped. I was thinking to myself that I was sure I had seen Susan Ruttan playing the wife of Brian Dennehy in another movie but I couldn't put my finger on it until someone referred to the character of John Reed purely as Sgt. Reed and I remembered the Jack Reed TV movies which Dennehy made during the 90s. Those movies came after this and I am not sure but I wonder whether they came about due to Dennehy's effectiveness in this.
That is very much the thing about "Shattered Promises" it is the effectiveness of the casting which makes it entertaining. Dennehy has that coffee and donuts things about him which makes him convincing as a cop who has worked his way up the ranks and done so the honest way. It makes him likeable as is Susan Ruttan who has a homely sweetness about her as his supportive wife. On the other hand you have Treat Williams and John M. Jackson both bringing nasty to their roles with Jackson especially effective as a dirty cop whilst Treat Williams turns on the deceptive charm of a good looking guy with an evil streak.
The thing is that once you get past the cast what you have left is not such an unusual movie, although at 3 hours it is a long one. For the first half we get a look at the troubled life of Dianne as she ends up an abused wife and as such we see the vile nature of her husband Alan. And then in the second half we have good cop in a bad precinct narrowing in on the truth in a fearless nature but of course finding many issues in his way as he gets too close to what is going on. The sad thing is that whilst "Shattered Promises" is based on a true story it ends up an extremely generic movie which frankly feels drawn out to make it last 3 hours.
What this all boils down to is that "Shattered Promises" is entertaining especially if you are fan of Brian Dennehy. But at the same time the final movie is ordinary and features elements you will find in many a movie from the 90s from the abusive husband to the dirty cops and the mob connection.