Hopkins and Gosling fill in the cracks in Fracture
Watching actor Anthony Hopkins playing a killer being interrogated by Ryan Gosling’s hotshot young lawyer can’t help but evoke the underlying fear that in Hannibal Lechter fashion he might suddenly jump across the table and start chewing on his accuser’s face. Though Hopkins’ character in “Fracture” is a wealthy, highly intelligent aeronautics engineer, his smarmy smirk lends a palpable fear that both delights and terrorizes at the same time.
“Fracture” is a well-written, keenly-acted dandy of a crime drama that pits Ted Crawford (Hopkins) and his brilliantly concocted murder scheme vs. the arrogant, upwardly mobile deputy District Attorney Willy Beachum (Gosling who most know from “The Notebook”).
Willy agrees to take what appears to be an open-and-shut case because he has career options on his mind, having cleverly orchestrated the opportunity to join a prestigious L.A. firm.
But the case is designed only to appear simple, since Ted carefully constructed the crime, then admits to shooting his young trophy wife (Embeth Davidtz). When the apparent murder weapon turns out to be the wrong gun and a plot twist makes winning the case impossible, Willy’s career aspirations are in serious jeopardy.
While “Fracture” borrows liberally from TV crime dramas like “Law and Order” and “L.A. Law,” the joy is in watching Hopkins and Gosling go head to head. Though the courtroom drama is kept to a minimum, the script is full of sly humor, accentuating both actors’ gift for glib delivery. We almost want both to end up on top. Hopkins’ legacy is assured, Gosling’s potential is scary good.
The film could have used a dose of heightened urgency, but “Fracture” is nonetheless a highly watchable, glossy-looking crime drama that for once taxes the brain without punishing the eyes and ears with gratuitous abandon.
Indeed, without the few “F” words, “Fracture” would be a mild PG-13 film by today’s standards. That the gore and profanity fest “Grindhouse” shares the same rating further illustrates the absurdity of the MPAA ratings system.
The prosecution rests.
Rated R for language and some violent content.