New Line // 2007 // 113 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // July 16th, 2009
If you look close enough, you'll find everyone has a weak spot.
There's something very intriguing about the perfect crime, whether it's a heist or a murder. The stakes are even higher when there's an element of risk. Try to imagine Ocean's Eleven, if Danny and his crew had sat in L.A. and stole money from the Bellagio by computer. Not very interesting. The same principle applies to murder. The perfect murder rarely involves a sniper, and very few people hang around after the deed is done. How much more interesting would it be, if the murderer not only hung around after his crime, but confessed as soon as the police showed up? Beyond that, he pleads not guilty at his trial. This is the setup for Fracture (Blu-ray), a promising thriller that doesn't quite know what to do with its high-caliber star or perfect-crime plot.
Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins, Titus) is an expert at failure -- he can look at a crashed plane and figure out the weakness that brought it down with a single glance. He'd be living the perfect life if his beautiful young wife wasn't cheating on him. Because he's a genius, Ted decides to get back at his wife by murdering her. Even though she's not quite dead and he confesses to the arresting officer at the scene, he pleads not guilty. His prosecutor is a young rising star, Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling, The Notebook), who's about to leave public service to join the lucrative private sector. Although Willy's got his head in the clouds, Crawford is all business, getting all of the evidence against him dismissed because his wife was sleeping with the officer who arrested him. Now Willy's cushy job is at stake in his fight to uncover Crawford's deception.
On paper, Fracture has a lot going for it. Anthony Hopkins is a commanding actor and has no problem playing highly intelligent but perhaps unbalanced individuals (I can easily imagine Ted Crawford and Hannibal Lector sitting down for some Chianti). Ryan Gosling has been slowly working his way up from smaller roles and was perfectly timed to work opposite a master actor like Hopkins. The screenwriter created a devil of a twister with Crawford's attempted murder, but somehow the film never rises above mediocrity.
When I first saw Fracture I blamed Gosling, who's simply no match for someone of Hopkins' stature. If they'd only had another actor in the role (perhaps a young Edward Norton), then the battle of wits between Crawford and Beechum would be more compelling. Upon rewatching the film, Gosling actually does a fine job. Although he's not quite ready to take on Hopkins toe-to-toe, he holds his own in this film. No, the problem is entirely a structural one. It's not that Gosling is incompetent, but more that the script can't decide what to do with him. Fracture is torn between being a John Grisham-style "young lawyer learning a life lesson" film, and a more CSI-style procedural.
The opening is definitely in the procedural vein, with a glimpse at the crime and Crawford's confession. However, once its revealed in court that the office had been sleeping with Crawford's wife, the film shifts focus almost exclusively to Beechum as he juggles his desire to join Corporate America with his desire to put Crawford away. We meet his new boss/love interest, including a funny Thanksgiving meal with her family. Then, the end turns back to a procedural once Beechum learns what's important in life and the mystery of Crawford's crime is revealed. The problem is that either of these stories would have been compelling on their own, but putting them together just drags the film down. Because we want to hear more about how Crawford did it, it's very difficult to get invested in Beechum's attempts at normalcy, and because of the wide gap between the procedural pieces, it's becomes harder to stay invested in that story as well. By the time the film wraps up, it simply doesn't feel satisfying, either for Crawford or Beechum.
I could watch Anthony Hopkins all day, and Fracture is no exception. His accent is a little spotty this time out, with the occasional brogue coming out, but otherwise he's a masterful combination of intelligence and menace. Gosling was compelling as well, even if Beechum's story is ho-hum. David Straithairn deserves some kudos as well for playing Willy's boss. In fact all the roles are filled with competent actors, making it even more tragic that the story can't quite get it together.
Fracture is a recent film, and this Blu-ray makes that apparent. Detail is strong in the video transfer, and for a surprisingly dark film the black levels stayed consistent. The audio does a decent job with the material, but this is a dialogue heavy movie so there's little to show off the surround channels. All the extras are ported over from the standard def release. They include a pair of alternate endings which aren't that different from the original, disappointing ending. There are also some deleted scenes that provide more of Willy and Nikki, although nothing earth shattering. We also get the film's trailer in hi-def.
Fracture is the kind of film that is best rented, or caught on cable. Fans of the film will certainly appreciate the hi-def treatment on this disc, but there's not enough new stuff to recommend an upgrade.
Guilty of wasting good actors on a fractured plot.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (German)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Polish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Russian)
Running Time: 113 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Alternate Endings
* Deleted Scenes
* Theatrical Trailer