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Fracture Movie Review
on August 14, 2007
Anthony Hopkins loves movies where he can wipe the floor with his costars. He is almost giddy in roles like Hannibal Lector. His character in director Gregory Hoblit's latest thriller, Fracture, is no different. Like the eggshell analogy that Hopkins makes to his costar Ryan Gosling, Fracture falls prey to the same smarmy advice the star gives out: everything, no matter how perfect it may look, has a flaw.
When wealthy and intelligent aerodynamics expert Ted Crawford (Hopkins) catches his wife in an act of infidelity with a Los Angeles homicide detective, he cooks up an elaborate plan to not only kill his wife, but to legally get away with it. What should have been an open and shut case for District Attorney Willy Beachum turns into a career ending nightmare as Crawford seemingly outsmarts the law at every turn.
Though the direction, acting and visual style in Fracture is fantastic, the hairline crack that splinters the picture is the film's attempt at creating suspense by relying on a twist ending that is easily predictable given the information that is presented early in the film. How exactly does Crawford shoot his wife in the face with a weapon that has never been fired? Given the revealing marketing for the film, which gives away the circumstances surrounding the murder, audiences can easily trace the steps that Hopkins takes early in the film, clearly giving them an idea of where Fracture is going.
In the best thrillers, when the inevitable twist hits, it is the little clues scattered throughout the picture which give the ending credibility. While all these details are within Fracture, they are so clear that if you don't see the crack in the villain's flawless plan immediately, you will be kicking yourself when the film finally presents it to you.
That being said, how does Fracture manage to hold the audience's attention despite its blatant reveal of the picture's number one mystery? While a less experienced director might rely heavily on this twist alone, Gregory Hoblit manages to see through what could have been a thinly veiled, plot driven movie and finds an intriguing character study.
While Hopkins chews up the scenery with his vast intellect and charming whit, Fracture is really the story of Willy Beachum. Considering the fact that Fracture consists of a cast which includes an Academy Award winner and two nominees, it was to be expected that Hoblit should have no problem drawing performances from his actors. The real surprise in Fracture is just how well planned out the story of Willy Beachum was.
Ryan Gosling's character begins the film as an arrogant, hot shot district attorney who has been put on the fast track, landing a job in the private sector. Thinking that Crawford's case will be the last in his short tenure serving the public, Beachum shrugs off what appears to be an easy win. His refusal to take the case seriously, combined with Crawford's meticulous planning, ultimately leads to Beachum's downfall. With his cushy job in jeopardy, Beachum's character develops a methodical obsession with Crawford, searching desperately to find the one clue that will put his nemesis away for good.
As the film progresses Gosling's character changes from cocky to heroic. At first it is fun to see Hopkins toy with him, but thanks to Gosling's surprisingly good acting and Hoblit's taught direction, as Beachum changes, so does the audience's expectations. We want Gosling to come out on top. This change, from selfishness to selflessness is what gives his character the roundness that carries Fracture past its faults.
Though predictable, it is the dramatic arc of Willy Beachum which separates Fracture from just another episode of Law and Order. While Hopkins' character begins the film as a smarmy antihero, he essentially pushes Beachum into becoming the unlikely champion of the story, and in some ways Fracture showcases one legendary actor passing on the torch to another.