I always enjoy a really intelligent crime/thriller/mystery. Gregory Hoblit’s latest movie, Fracture, fits the bill very nicely.
Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) discovers that his wife is having an affair. He tries to kill her when she arrives home one evening but she survives (although she is brain dead). When the police arrive along with the hostage negotiator (which turns out to be Ted’s wife’s lover), Ted is standing near the body with the gun in his hand and provides a complete confession and put on trial for attempted murder. It is an open and shut case.
Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) is an up-and-coming hotshot lawyer (or thinks he is) who works for the DA in the public prosecutor’s office. He is on the up escalator heading for success and has been invited to a big-name private law firm. Before he leaves for his new job, though, he decides to take on the prosecution of Ted Crawford - it will be easy to win and will be a nice way of ending his current employment.
But things turn out to be more difficult than they first appeared to be. Ted, who has decided to represent himself, begins to manipulate the legal system and Willy in ways that threaten to bring Willy’s career to an abrupt end. Instead of being an easy win, Ted Crawford’s case becomes a battle of wits with some very big consequences.
Anthony Hopkins is great in this role. The danger for Hopkins, of course, is that he will inevitably be compared to his Hannibal Lecter roles. He could easily have overplayed Ted Crawford but is appropriately restrained. Ryan Gosling is also excellent as we follow him on a journey that challenges who he is and why he is doing what he is.
Fracture is very intriguing and the mystery that unfolds as the narrative progresses teases our minds until the answer is revealed right at the end. Some stories require contrived plot devices to make them work. Not so with Fracture. The plot is complicated but all pretty believable making it a very satisfying murder mystery. The direction is flawless as we are led along with Willy as he tries to work out what is going on. Fracture works on an entertainment level but also has some important things to say about success and whether it is always worth what needs to be sacrificed to attain it.
My Rating: **** (out of 5)
’The plot’s many complications pretty much all add up, which is a rarity these days for a murder mystery. It’s possible that audiences don’t even care anymore if a film makes sense as long it’s entertaining.’ - Peter Rainer/Christian Science Monitor
’Fracture may be smarter than the majority of movies out there, but it’s not half as clever as it thinks it is.’ - Pete Vonder Haar/Film Threat
Language and some violent content