By shooting his cheating wife in the head and then confessing to the crime of attempted murder, Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) is almost certain to be punished to the full extent of the law.
In order to facilitate a speedy trial, Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling), a rising hotshot lawyer, is brought in to prosecute Ted, who has chosen – foolishly it seems – to represent himself. However, when Willy is unable to do just that he becomes involved in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the analytically minded Ted.
Fracture has all the makings of a great courtroom drama/thriller – great cast, simple but intriguing premise – but somehow it fails to deliver. It begins promisingly enough but soon digresses into a rather boring and stale piece of cinema. There are much better films, in the same genre, out there.
For many, to criticise anything starring the Oscar-winning Anthony Hopkins is tantamount to blasphemy. The man is an acting legend but with Fracture the very real failings of “the Hollywood star vehicle” concept are painfully obvious.
The result is that Fracture may do well at the box-office simply because it has Anthony Hopkins in it, even when his performance is nothing special. Ted Crawford is essentially Hannibal Lecter without the cannibalistic tendencies. It saddens me to say it but Hopkins simply rehashes some of his most memorable acting moments from the start to the end of the film.
On the other hand though, hot young actor Ryan Gosling does impress with his performance. I will admit I do have a tendency to draw conclusions about certain actors – in this case attractive leading men whom I feel have nothing more going for them than their looks.
Fortunately, Gosling provides a great, spirited turn alongside Hopkins. As Willy Beachum he brings to the screen a naivety and fiery determination that makes Fracture a bit, but only slightly, more interesting to watch. Gosling, in my mind, no longer occupies the same category as for example Fast and the Furious pretty-boy star Paul Walker.
Fracture is a classic example of film that relies on its self-perceived intelligence and cleverness in order to be successful. Its twist – although I’m not sure you can actually call it that – is central to the drive of the narrative and its main protagonist. Unfortunately, there is no ultimately no real “WOW” factor when the surprise is finally revealed. It just kind of happens and then the film ends.
Although I’m not one to spoil films for anyone by revealing too much, if you read posts on imdb.com you’ll find that the twist itself is flawed – both physically, scientifically and legally. Entire forums are devoted to discussing the legality of Fracture’s final conclusion and I must admit that reading those were considerably more involving than watching the film itself.
Fracture tries to be intelligent and while it may look and sound it – with its legal ramblings, courtroom settings and men and women in business suits – it fails rather miserably. Plot holes abound and the film drags in large chunks. If you’re looking for courtroom intrigue and psychological battles worthy of your time stick with 1996’s Primal Fear also by Gregory Hoblit; Fracture’s director.