All that’s missing is some fava beans and a nice Chianti, but it’s always fun to watch Hopkins as the manipulator behind bars.
After Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) shoots his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) in the head at their home, Los Angeles prosecuting attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) is given the case as a throwaway. They have the murder weapon, bullet casings, a witnessed verbal and signed confession, and everything else to convict the husband, but Willy is consumed with changing jobs to a high-profile corporate law firm that has been his life’s dream. With an inexplicable plea of not guilty and a smug request to represent himself, Ted quickly proves himself to be a criminal mastermind who has stacked the legal deck in his favor, forcing Willy to turn his full attention to the case or risk losing everything he’s worked for and letting an attempted murderer go free… if it isn’t too late already.
Fracture presents itself as a slow-burning legal mystery thriller where both the audience and good guys are given all the clues and must reach the right conclusion before the bad guy goes free. The best part is Anthony Hopkins channeling all the evil genius that made Hannibal Lector one of the most memorable villains in cinematic history, while the bad part is the layers of distractions heaped upon Ryan Gosling’s character to keep him from devoting his full attention to the case. As a result, clues don’t come as quickly as we’d like because, frankly, his character isn’t really looking for them. By the time Gosling’s character comes on board with solving the mystery, the first hour is whittle away with trivial bits about Willy losing everything he’s been working for.
But the mystery is the meat of this thriller, and the answers are actually there on screen for all to see. Instead of the “Jessica Fletcher ending” where clues are withheld, the final answer and solution is available for both the hero and the audience to discover. By the final confrontation, the answers are revealed, but how it will all end is still in doubt. If the first hour could have moved along as gingerly and been as captivating as most of the second hour, the movie would have felt tighter and more engaging over all.
Besides the fact that Hopkins is playing a genius homicidal maniac behind bars pitted against a country boy who’s raised himself up to the big time all on his own accord, there are more than a few obvious comparisons between Fracture and Silence of the Lambs. Instead of building to a final confrontation, however, Fracture‘s ending is almost e-mailed in as an epilogue. Such a lack of tension prior to the final reveal undermines a film that deserved a little better, and even then things are drawn out longer than necessary. Good but not great, interesting but not intriguing, and about twenty minutes too long.
(a two and a half skull recommendation out of four)