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Overall Rating
3.24

Awesome: 9.76%
Worth A Look39.02%
Average: 17.07%
Pretty Bad: 34.15%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 17 user ratings


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Fracture
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by Erik Childress

"The Perfect Title For Any Of Hoblit's Movies"
2 stars

Gregory Hoblit is really making a name for himself, if such a name can be made for the auteur king of upstart high-concept thrillers that start strong and then shift between the lethargic and the ridiculous. Like most of America, you probably barely remember Fallen, the supernatural Denzel Washington thriller where an executed serial killer swapped bodies by mere touch. Primal Fear had its share of kudos and a pair of solid central performances from Richard Gere and Edward Norton but devolved into courtroom clichés and an ending anyone with a brain saw coming miles away. Frequency had an ultra-cool twist on the time travel genre with a father-and-son being able to communicate 30 years apart through a ham radio. Oh, but wait, throw a serial killer in there too to fake out audiences into believing they’re watching Sea of Love. Hoblit didn’t write any of these scripts, but there is a pattern in his choices and not just in his lackadaisical directorial skills. It behooved me watching his latest choice, Fracture, that Hoblit finally had a screenplay that even an untrained monkey with a background in television couldn’t interfere with. After a solid first hour though, Fracture becomes just another stop on the Hoblit hack train and an aptly titled one at that.

Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) knows quite a bit about aeronautical engineering. He must in order to afford that lovely house, a car that comes with everything but its own Yello soundtrack and create all the intricate bits of marble madness in his office and home. Too bad his wife (Embeth Davidtz) is cheating on him. There’s a quick fix to that though. BANG! One shot to the face, wifey goes down and as Ted locks himself in his home, who should show up as the hostage negotiator? None other than her lover himself (Billy Burke) who, after a quick struggle, arrests Ted and gets a full written confession to the shooting while the wife hangs on in a coma.

Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) is assigned what should be a slam-bang case. He even shows up to court in a full tuxedo, on his way to a business function that could net him all the perks of a prestige firm he’s got his eye on. With one foot out the door, Willy doesn’t pay much attention to the details. He’s got a woman in the hospital, a signed confession and a suspect who has asked to represent himself. There may not be a murder weapon, since Ted’s gun is tested to have never been fired, but how can Willy lose? Ted barely pays attention in court and is seemingly ignorant of the rules of law, but he knows the details all too well and gives the evidence a quick one-eighty to put the prosecution reeling desperately to maintain his near perfect (but clearly untested) record.

Fracture is set up with the potential for an ultimate showdown between cat-and-mouse and the performances by Hopkins and Gosling keep us speculating not about the outcome but about who we’d rather be rooting for. Hopkins has the arrogant genius thing going for him in his problem solving skills and its his cockiness in the case against himself that is almost endearing. Even for a murderer, the idea that he’s got ten decks worth of aces up his sleeves has an appealing counterbalance to Gosling’s cocky upstart. If you’re chalking up empathy between a smart guy putting a bullet into his suggestible gold-digging, adulterous wife and a young punk who has his eye on the prize and his potential new boss (Rosamund Pike) more than the rules of law, well, let the vengeful God be your judge.

Daniel Pyne & Glenn Gers’ screenplay begins to spend way too much time with Willy’s personal life and the longer we avoid his adversary, the less involved it is with being a legal thriller. By the hour mark, all that’s left of Willy’s case is finding the murder weapon and it leads to way too many scenes where the house is searched to no avail when any right thinking audience member knows precisely where its little gun legs have taken it. When Willy’s conscience becomes the star of the picture, Fracture has completely run out of ideas and energy and eases itself to sleep with potential evidence tampering, the tired plot device of a character needing an inconsequential and obvious bit of object connection to put the pieces together and a punchline ending that is so lackluster and dumb it almost makes Double Jeopardy look like a legal advice column.

For someone who cut his teeth on such solid episodic legal dramas like Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue and L.A. Law, Hoblit has now mangled three courtroom features; Hart’s War being another resume filler that could easily fit into the first paragraph of this review. Maybe he’s just drawn to these half-written screenplays or executives see their potential and say “get Hoblit on the phone.” Either way, the greater damage I found coming out of Fracture was the way Ryan Gosling has been left dangling. Part of this is on Gosling choosing a character not as fully rounded as his work in The Believer or Half Nelson, but when you observe him as Willy, a clarity begins to rear its ugly head in that Gosling may not have many more tricks up his own sleeve as an actor. His silent staring and angry eye bulging may have got him an Oscar nomination last year, but Fracture puts him on notice to at least attempt to branch away from any character description loglined as “brooding”, “smug” or “sleepy doe-eyed.” I’ve thought much of Gosling in the past, including his less-referenced work in a far better mousetrap called Murder by Numbers and it pains me to feel that I’ve been duped more by him than anything in Fracture.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15626&reviewer=198
originally posted: 04/20/07 14:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/22/09 PAUL SHORTT ONE OF THOSE FILMS IN WHICH CRACKS APPEAR THE MINUTE YOU BEGIN TO LOOK TOO CLOSELY 2 stars
4/16/08 steve newman a bit obvious 3 stars
4/15/08 R.W. Welch Deviously plotted legal thriller. Not airtight, but fun stuff. 4 stars
1/26/08 Double M Starts great then goes absolutely nowhere. A strong cast w. weak story and a lame 2nd half. 3 stars
11/21/07 pin Saw it coming a mile away. Like Law & Order, but not that good.. 2 stars
11/19/07 Arty Choke The first half hour was great; the middle quite fine; ending fizzled. Hopkins n Gosling A+ 4 stars
9/22/07 Indrid Cold Never heard of Gosling before, but he's like a Matthew Mcconaughey who can actually act. 4 stars
8/29/07 Matt Engrossing stuff which sadky fizzles out to a lame conclusion. Still watchable, though. 3 stars
8/26/07 Monday Morning Very smart suspense-mystery...characters, music, EVERYTHING is terrific. 5 stars
8/24/07 edmond leung very suspensful. Worthy to silence of the lamb 5 stars
8/22/07 D the ending is rather lame 3 stars
8/22/07 susan great 4 stars
7/03/07 William Goss Legal thriller sags without Hopkins near, has more smirks than smarts. 3 stars
6/10/07 Alice ok because of the good acting 3 stars
4/30/07 Jo Ann Watson Loved it! Intelligent and very entertaining 5 stars
4/27/07 Heather Schroeder Hopkins and Gosling shine 5 stars
4/26/07 Ole Man Bourbon Decent until the pathetic cop-out at the end. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  20-Apr-2007 (R)
  DVD: 14-Aug-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Aug-2007



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