“And what did you see Clarice, what did you see…” Hannibal Lecter would quiz the young eager agent. Well Sir Anthony Hopkins doesn’t go quite Hannibal Lecter on us in New Line Cinema’s new release ‘Fracture’, but the knighted one is not on his best behavior either in this interesting thriller which showcases two very fine acting talents in Mr. Hopkins and his co-star Ryan Gosling.
Ted Crawford (Hopkins) has attempted to murder his wife. No mystery there because we saw him put a slug dead square into her head. Ted, you see, is none to happy that his lovely wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) has taken to sexing it up in the afternoon with police hostage negotiator Rob Nunnally (Billy Burke). Ted, as we can tell by the car he drives, the home he lives in and industry he controls, is a not only a wealthy man, but a wickedly intelligent one as well. After he shoots his wife, Ted sets in motion a series of carefully planned events which culminates with his wife’s lover serving as the negotiator in what is believed to be a hostage situation in which Ted seems be holding the woman hostage. Thing is, Officer Rob doesn’t know that his lover is also Ted’s wife as she tried to keep it as anonymous as possible. Some detective this guy. When he finds out, he freaks and Ted is carted away to prison, along with a signed confession in what appears to be a slam dunk of a case.
The case is palmed on public prosecutor Willie Beachum (Gosling) who is on his way out the door to the most prestigious corporate firm in Los Angeles, and the riches such an appointment brings. Willie really doesn’t have the time for this case, but it’s so open and shut, complete with signed confessions and witnesses, he goes ahead and takes it. One problem though, the gun they found on the scene doesn’t appear to be
the gun used in the crime, but no problem though, since the rest of the evidence is so rock solid he can’t lose. Add to that the fact that Ted, with no legal experience to speak of, has chosen to defend himself. Slam Dunk, just like I said. Uh, no. Turns out Ted is smarter than Willie, the LAPD and whoever else may tangle with him, and has cleverly made sure the case against him was built upon a fragile stack of cards which predictably collapses in Willie’s face. So unless Willie, at the 11th hour, can scramble up some new evidence, Ted will walk clean and clear, along with the sweet corporate gig that Willie had all lined up.
Don’t read the last paragraph of this review because I’m going to spoil the ending as I had some issues with it. Just a warning. I was laughing at the commercials for ‘Fracture’ because they tried to make it look as if this was some kind of action flick, when I could tell the bulk of the film was two guys talking, and this basically is what it was, along with a lot of procedural police work and legal jargon but, because ‘Fracture’ is so well acted and expertly directed by Gregory Hoblit, it never became dull, trite or boring. To the contrary, for a movie with probably less action than the average episode of CSI, This tale of male arrogance and how it can corrupt ones soul was one of the more thrilling films I’ve seen this year, this being a testament to the skill of those in front and behind the camera.
Anthony Hopkins is obviously a great actor and no one needs to hear from me how he can take control of a scene, and ultimately an entire film simply with a crooked grin or the wink of an eye. Here he imbues Ted Crawford with just enough charm, despite the man’s obvious arrogance and vitriol, to have one maintain a keen interest in his outcome. Ryan Gosling, who pretty much has to carry the entire film since Ted Chambers spends most of his time behind bars, also does an outstanding job as a man who is arguably just as arrogant and abrasive as Ted Chambers, but not nearly as clever and as a result, the repercussions of his arrogance are seismic.
SPOILER: So Ted Chambers is acquitted of his wife’s attempted murder as she lies in a coma, kept alive only by life support. Crime over, Ted skates since double jeopardy laws clearly apply. Ted however is SO arrogant and SO spiteful that he disconnects the woman from life support and allows her to die. Attempted murder now becomes murder should our erstwhile D.A. ever find out how and where Ted disposed of the murder weapon. Of COURSE the D.A. figures it out allowing him to eventually retry Ted for murder this time. As intelligent and clever as the Hopkins character is portrayed as being, and I don’t care how arrogant and self important he’s supposed to be, considering he planned this crime to the absolute tee and succeeded in his plan. I doubt he would have opened a door that wide for our hero to save the day, and as such I didn’t buy the ending. SPOILER OVER.
Regardless, ‘Fracture’ was a very entertaining, taut, well acted thriller for grown ups and despite my problems with the films conclusion, I found it a great watch. Highly recommended.