5.15.2008

Fracture (2007)

DIRECTED BY
Gregory Hoblit

STARRINGAnthony Hopkins - Ted Crawford
Ryan Gosling - Willy Beachum
David Strathairn - D.A. Joe Lobruto
Rosamund Pike - Nikki Gardner
Embeth Davidtz - Jennifer Crawford
Billy Burke - Rob Nunally
Cliff Curtis - Detective Flores

Year - 2007

Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4

I think most of us would like to commit crimes and get away with them. I'm not talking about stealing. Anyone can do that. I mean bigger stuff like tax evasion, assault, or even murder. Yeah, I'm sure most of us felt like murdering someone at least once in our lives. We figure out how we would do it and how we would cover our tracks so we can maintain our freedom. But then again, we're born with that dreaded conscience that reminds us of our morals and our understanding of right and wrong. We're not as lucky as O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake. Allegedly.

So here I was last night watching FRACTURE, starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling, hoping to learn how one could commit attempted murder and STILL get away with it. And what I learned is that getting away with murder has nothing to do with planning and all to do with luck and coincidence. Being as unlucky as I am, I realized that I better follow the law if I want to keep living my life. That disappointed me, just like this film did.

PLOT
A structual engineer named Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) finds out his wife (Embeth Davidtz) is cheating on him, following her and her lover while devising a plan to confront her with his knowledge. Later that night, Crawford shoots her in the head and cleans up the place while waiting for the police. When the cops arrive, the lead detective and negotiator (Billy Burke) treats the situation as if Crawford is holding a hostage. But when he sees Crawford's wife laying on the floor wounded, he's shocked to learn that the woman is the same woman he's been having an affair with. Crawford enjoys the whole situation, taking pride in what he has started.

With no one else in the house, the murder weapon, and a signed confession, the case seems like a breeze to win for young and arrogant attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling), who is in the middle of leaving his small-time firm for one of the top films in the country. With a 97 percent conviction rate, Beachum takes Crawford's case as prosecutor, believe he can wrap up the case before leaving, even though Crawford plans to fight the charges against him. What was once an easy open-and-shut case now becomes difficult as the evidence of the crime doesn't match up and the detective who took Crawford's confession happened to be his wife's detective lover, throwing that evidence out as well. Having no chance to beat Crawford, Beachum becomes obsessed with the case, possibly costing him his job and his new relationship with his female boss (Rosamund Pike).

REVIEW
FRACTURE is a better-than-average film but I was expecting more out of this legal thriller. If it weren't for the top-notch performances from the film's lead actors Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling, this could have been your standard made-for-TV movie. Not to knock the film because it was very watchable and I wanted to know how it would all end up for these characters at the end of the film. But the way the film moved along was really preposterous, with coincidence after coincidence after coincidence driving the story along. There was no logic in what these characters did at all. But I guess we wouldn't have a film if there was any, now would we?

The story, again, is pretty clever - if not flawed. It never tries to trick you with evidence coming out of nowhere or a really convoluted twist ending that not even Einstein would understand [i.e. PERFECT STRANGER], but alot of the things these characters do are not things real people would do in real life. I mean, why would the police treat an attempted homicide as a hostage situation? Crawford admitted straight out he shot his wife. The gardener saw shots being fired in the house and through the windows. The first thing I would suspect is attempted murder. So that kind of bugged me, but had to be done in order for Detective Nunully to realize the woman shot was the same woman he was having sex with on the side. Speaking of Rob, he's a really lazy detective. He had no idea who the woman he was sleeping with was. He didn't know her real name. He didn't know where she lived. He didn't know who she was married to. Um...isn't that your job if you're a detective? Ya know, to find out who the people around you are? If I were a detective, I would be frustrated not knowing the identity of the woman I'm messing around with. What if she gives me an STD or something? I wanna know who that bitch is!

Speaking of sleeping around, that was really smart of Nikki Gardner, senior partner at the top law firm, to sleep with the new guy Willy Beachum. She just met the guy and went straight to bed with him. And then, she invited him to Thanksgiving dinner with her family! Wow, either Willy was a stallion in bed or Nikki is desperate to show her family that she can actually land a man for more than one night. I'm glad none of my one-night-stands wanted to take me to meet their families. Because that's exactly what a one-night-stand is! And the whole relationship seemed forced to begin with. I wasn't sure if this plot point was constructed to show that Willy was straight or that he would have something to lose if he continued with his obsession to win his case against Crawford. It didn't really matter to the story, in my opinion, so I don't believe anything would have changed if it was completely left out to begin with.

Another thing that bugged me was how Crawford kept getting away with everything. He was made to be like this Hannibal Lecter character [probably why Hopkins was picked to begin with], yet I didn't find him to be a genius at all. He was just really lucky. The whole murder weapon thing and how the trial went down was kind of planned but how could he had planned the results if he weren't suspecting really dumb cops and an arrogant lawyer? And when he does get off for what he's done, he's not really smart in how he treats his freedom. He acts like a guilty man. He doesn't think people are not gonna continue to watch his every move? Give me a break. It's an engaging film no doubt, but a little logic would be nice sometimes. Just a poor man's SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, I felt.

The direction by Gregory Hoblit, who also directed another legal thriller PRIMAL FEAR, is competent in his job. Nothing really fancy. Nothing that really stands out. Just a nicely directed film that has good pacing and always leaves you wanting more, even if you do see the imperfections in the story. For a thriller that's not exactly "thrilling", Hoblit does try hard to make you believe it is. Can't knock a man for effort.

The acting was excellent in this film, which pretty much saves the film from being a total disappointment. Anthony Hopkins really bites into his role as Ted Crawford, a man who's proud of shooting his wife and getting away with it. Obviously, Hopkins goes back into Hannibal Lecter mode for the role as you can make comparisons between the two, although Crawford isn't as vicious physically as Lecter. He's sharp, he's witty, and he's good at playing head games with the people around him. No other actor is really good at this type of character like Hopkins is, and you can tell he's enjoying himself in the role as the film goes on. His evil persona is interestingly magnetic, as you can't keep your eyes off of him when he's on screen. He won't win an Oscar but he's wonderful as always in this film.

Ryan Gosling is also good in the bigger role of Willy Beachum. He's arrogant, obsessed with winning, and sports a southern accent that will make the ladies want to date him. It was like hearing the male Clarice Starling but Gosling is no Jodie Foster. But he's very good in a cliched role - so good that he makes the role feel fresh. I did like that he got his mind messed with throughout the film because I hate really arrogant people and he just assumed he would win the case without doing any real work. But Gosling played the role really well and I enjoyed his chemistry with Hopkins.

All the other actors were good. David Strathairn was very good again in his short role as Willy's tough boss. Rosamund Pike was just eye candy as Willy's supervisor/love interest. And Billy Burke was very good as the obsessed and heartbroken Rob, who wanted to do anything possible to put Crawford behind bars, even if he had to play it dirty. But the film belonged to Hopkins and Gosling, and they both turned this average story into an above average watchable film.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE WATCHING THIS FILM
1) You should never marry a man who plays with marbles. He's just bound to lose some sooner than later.

2) Playing Mr. and Mrs. Smith is the cause of many failed marriages. See also: Brad Pitt & Jennifer Aniston.

3) Knowledge is pain. No kidding. Watching these entertainment shows about Britney Spears' horrible VMA performance, and why it was the way it was, is rotting my once functioning and intelligent brain.

4) Ted Crawford shoots his wife. Now, if she had just served him some fava beans with some nice chianti, she could have probably prevented this.

5) Willy's boss likes to be called God. I thought law firms were in the pits of Hell? I'm confused...

6) If you want to win a trial, don't put the defendant's wife's lover/arresting cop on the stand. No only did he cause a wife to cheat, but he'll probably cheat you out of a victory.

7) "My dick is good." Crawford meant his private investigator. I don't. =P

8) If you need new evidence, go to the evidence store. That's where O.J. Simpson got the gloves that acquited him. ALLEGEDLY.

9) The doctor believed that Crawford's comatose wife wouldn't wake up even if someone talked to her. I see she went to the Dr. Kavorkian School of Medicine.
10) If you're tried for one crime and get off, don't be stupid to commit a bigger one. Only Alex Trebek can get away with Double Jeopardy.

THE FINAL HOWL
FRACTURE is a watchable film with two great lead performances. Too bad the script wasn't on par with their talents. Even so, it's still an interesting and clever film beneath the flaws. Definitely recommend the film for a rental. Here's hoping to Gosling and Hopkins working together again in a much better film.

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