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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 Peter Sobczynski

"A Pretty Good Game Of Cat And Mouseketeer"
4 stars

I have no idea why two actors as good as Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling decided to sign on for a film as an undistinguished as “Fracture” but I am certainly glad that they did. Together, they take a project that could have easily served as anonymous TV movie fodder and, solely through their combined skills, transform it into the kind of meat-and-potatoes programmer that is about four times better than it has any right to be. Watching the two of them going through their paces is a lot like watching a home run batting derby between a beloved veteran player and a hotshot phenomenon–we know deep down that they are being served nothing but easy-to-hit softballs and that they aren’t really being challenged at all but we are having far too much fun watching them knocking the material out of the park to get too upset about it.

This time out, Hopkins plays Ted Crawford, a cold and analytical type who makes a living (an incredibly comfortable one, as it appears) studying complex machinery in order to find the weak point in the seemingly flawless design that can bring the entire thing to a violent halt. As the film opens, he has discovered the weak point in his seemingly flawless marriage–his beautiful young wife (Embeth Davidtz) is having an affair–and brings it to a halt by firing a bullet into her head and putting her into a coma. With a full confession and the weapon in hand, it seems like an open-and-shut case–especially when Crawford announces his desire to defend himself–and this is why hotshot prosecutor Willy Beachum (Gosling) agrees to take it on as his last case before leaving the D.A.’s office for the more lucrative environs of a corporate law firm.

Once Willy takes on the case, he gradually begins to realize with horror that the seemingly open-and-shut case is anything but. For starters, it turns out that the gun that was taken into evidence by the police was not the one used in the shooting. Then he discovers that the arresting officer, Lt. Rob Nunally (Billy Burke), was the person having an affair with Crawford’s wife and since he was in the room when the confession was being made, Crawford is able to get that thrown out as well by claiming that it was coerced. With the once surefire case in shambles, Willy’s current boss (David Strathairn) is ready to yank him off the case and his future employers, unhappy with their new hire’s public humiliation, is ready to rescind their offer as well. After the requisite licking of wounds, Willy–who we learn has tended in the past to trade off harder-to-win cases for slam-dunks in order to make himself look better–decides to respond to the challenge and struggles against time to find something that will hold up in court before Crawford is freed due to lack of evidence.

Like its smoothly psychotic central character, “Fracture” goes to extraordinary lengths to announce to audiences just how smart and clever it really is by presenting us with a seemingly airtight case in its opening fifteen minutes (there is no doubt, for example, as to the fact that Crawford has shot his wife in the most premeditated and cold-blooded manner possible) and then spending most of the remaining running time undermining those assumptions. The problem is that while the screenplay by Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers is undeniably clever with all of the twists and turns that it tosses in, the end result isn’t nearly as smart as it thinks it is. Since the character of Crawford’s wife spends virtually the entire film in a coma, we aren’t allowed to get any real sense of what their relationship to that point and as a result, she winds up serving as little more than a plot device and nothing else. At other times, there are plot strands–such as the cuckolding cop’s plan to plant false evidence in Crawford’s house when the real thing cannot be found–and characters–chiefly the sexy colleague (Rosamund Pike) at Willy’s new firm–that are introduced with great fanfare without ever receiving any satisfactory resolution. The biggest problem by far, however, is the supremely disappointing conclusion that Pyne and Gers have used for a wrap-up. I wouldn’t dream of even hinting about what occurs, of course, but having spent 90 minutes trying to prove how clever it is, it is supremely depressing to watch as “Fracture” concludes in a way that is reminiscent of an old Charlie Chan film and even there, the producers might have asked for a rewrite to make things a little less lame.

These are all significant flaws and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention them but I have to admit that while I was actually watching the film, I was generally having too much fun watching Hopkins and Gosling tearing things up to notice. Of course, to cast Hopkins in the role of a fiendishly intelligent killer is to dredge up memories of his career-defining work as Hannibal Lecter but in this case, the typecasting does serve a certain purpose–because of his screen persona, we are more likely to instantly accept the conceit of his clever brilliance without having to ask the kind of questions that might cause the screenplay to self-destruct. Besides, with the possible exception of Christopher Walken, I can’t easily think of another actor that I would rather see in a role like this–the performance may be hammy but in Hopkins’s hands, it is at least Grade-A ham. As for Gosling, it may come as a shock to some to see this gifted young actor in such an essentially frivolous role after such intense workouts as “The Believer” and “Half Nelson” but his work as the cheerfully callow Beachum is undeniably entertaining and, unlike most match-ups between veteran actors and hot young things, he more than holds his own in his scenes against Hopkins. (I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the supporting turn by David Strathairn as the noble-but-pragmatic D.A. who scores some of the biggest laughs in the film simply by the power of his extra-dry line readings.)

I don’t want to suggest to you that “Fracture” is some kind of unsung masterpiece that you should drop everything in order to catch–I am almost certain that clips from it won’t be appearing on any Hopkins or Gosling highlight reels and you probably shouldn’t even think about seeing it if you haven’t already seen such markedly superior works currently in release as “Hot Fuzz,” “Grindhouse,” “Black Book” or “The Hoax.” That said, this is a film with an admittedly modest goal–it wants to provide viewers with nothing more than a reasonably diverting game of cat-and-Mouseketeer–and on that level, I have to admit that it works pretty well. I may not remember anything about it two months from now but for the two hours I was watching it, I was more than sufficiently entertained.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15626&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/20/07 16:24:28
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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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