FRACTURE
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Imagine casting Anthony Hopkins as a genius
with a penchant for crime and then having him
go up against a somewhat naive younger blond.
Sounds like
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS,
right? Well, in a nutshell, it is also the plot of
FRACTURE, a thriller that plays out like a
championship chess match.

The screenplay by Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gets
(from a story by Pyne) has Hopkins cast as
structural engineer Ted Crawford. He's wealthy
and successful and enjoys the trappings:
speeding around in a fancy car, living in a
gorgeous home, and being married to the
requisite trophy wife (Embeth Davidtz). Crawford
is also the kind of guy who prides who can spot
design flaws. And he's aware that his wife is
having an affair with married hostage negotiator
Robert Nunally (Billy Burke). The illicit couple
hold their trysts at a hotel, and neither really
reveals much about their personal lives -- in
fact, they only know one another by their first
names.

When Mrs. Crawford arrives home one evening
after meeting her lover, her husband shoots her
in the face, leaving her in a coma.
By refusing to come out when the police arrive,
Crawford knows that Nunally will arrive to
negotiate with him -- and his nefarious plan is
set in motion. He is arrested and confesses to
the murder.

Enter Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling), a hotshot
district attorney who has finally landed his
dream job in the private sector, working for a
corporate law firm. So, with basically one foot
out the door, he is called on to prosecute what
should be an open and shut case. Crawford
decides to defend himself and waives rights in
order to obtain a speedy trial. And then the
fireworks begin.

Willy literally becomes a servant of two masters
-- the District Attorney (David Strathairn in a
Gardner (Rosamund Pike), a sexy barracuda with
whom Willy begins an ill-advised sexual
relationship.

The screenplay contains some humor and a few
twists -- although some may have trouble with
the final one since it seems too obvious to
overlook. (I also have to confess that I thought
I had figured out a plot twist that would have
been too obvious and am happy to report that
the writers opted not to go that route.) Gregory
Hoblit directs in a very fluid, straightforward
manner. What keeps the audience interest are
the performances.

In just a few scenes Davidtz creates a woman
who wants more than just to be seen as a
pretty possession and who seeks comfort and
perhaps more in the arms of a handsome and
sexy cop. Burke does a fine job as the conflicted
law officer, who toys with going down a very
dark path in order to see Crawford punished.
Fiona Shaw is suitably stern as the judge
presiding over the trial (and almost makes up
for her histrionics in
THE BLACK DAHLIA). Pike
is well cast as the seductive corporate attorney.

But this is really a showcase for Hopkins and
Gosling. Of course, Hopkins has famously
created the suave and charming serial killer
Hannibal Lecter and while there are similarities
to that character, the actor chooses to find new
notes to play. It may be a variation on a theme,
but it is a potent one. While he doesn't have
much screen time, Hopkins dominates the film.

He is matched perfectly by Gosling, who creates
a complex portrait of an ambitious young man,
aspiring to some of the trappings that Crawford
almost takes for granted. There's a bit of the
rube in Beachum which Gosling allows to seep
through in small pieces, but he is also a very
intelligent, if arrogant, person. The struggle of
wills between these two bright and proud men is
at the heart of the film.

FRACTURE is an enjoyable movie aimed at an
adult audience. It doesn't condescend nor does
it take the viewer for granted. The movie also
allows its strong cast, headed by Hopkins and
Gosling, to shine.


Rating:                B-
MPAA Rating:        R for language and
                       some violent content
Running time:       112 mins.
L to R: Ryan Gosling as Willy Beachum and
Anthony Hopkins as Ted Crawford
in
FRACTURE

© 2007 New Line Cinema