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Rated 2.97 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Master Actor at Work
by Betty Jo Tucker

Who wants to match wits with Anthony Hopkins when he’s in his Hannibal Lecter mode? Nobody, but that's what Ryan Gosling must do in Fracture, a provocative and entertaining psychological thriller. Hopkins calls up those steely Lecter eyes and creepy mannerisms to play the role of a man who tries to murder his unfaithful wife, then defends himself in the trial as he enjoys out-witting the young prosecutor assigned to his case. Gosling is cast as an assistant district attorney who thinks it will be easy to convict his latest opponent, but ends up engaged in a struggle between ambition and a sense of justice. Unfortunately, although Gosling earned an Oscar nomination for Half Nelson, he loses the acting face-off here with Hopkins, who once again shows off his uncanny ability to portray a diabolical genius.

Watching Hopkins in Fracture is like observing a master painter create a work of art. Hopkins uses just the right facial expressions and body language to bring his own creation to life. With a lift of an eyebrow, a tiny smile, and a bit of a shrug, he lets us know his character plans to toy with the opposing lawyer. And, of course, there’s that marvelous elegant voice, this time with a teasing lilt to his “Old Sport” comments. From all this, we know Hopkins’ Ted Crawford is an arrogant, intelligent man indeed. What we don’t understand until later is why he would confess to the crime and yet feel certain he wouldn’t be convicted.

Gosling’s Willy Beachum is also an arrogant, intelligent man, and his 97% conviction rate has caused him to be quite cocky. But he’s caught up in a web of ambition relating to a new job offer from a prestigious law firm and a sexual liaison with his new boss (Rosamund Pike). If he loses this slam-dunk case, how will that impact his future?

Willy starts to worry when he faces serious problems with the prosecution because of the lack of a murder weapon and the bombshell Ted drops in court concerning the arresting officer’s (Billy Burke) adulterous affair with his wife (Embeth Davidtz), who now lies in a coma. But his biggest problem relates to the way Ted continuously nudges him toward his breaking point. During an early interrogation scene, Ted warns Willy about this strategy by sharing how he once candled eggs for his grandfather, who asked him to throw away the ones that were cracked or flawed. "I found a flaw in every single one," Ted declares. "Look closely enough and you'll find everything has a weak spot where, sooner or later, it will break. And I’ve already found yours, Old Sport," he adds menacingly.

Too bad Gosling fails to breathe life into his character in the way Hopkins does. He simply looks perplexed most of the time, even when Willy should be expressing his sensitive side in visits to Ted’s wife at the hospital. I couldn’t help thinking how much better this thriller would have been with someone like Joshua Jackson (Aurora Borealis) in this role. At first, I thought about Edward Norton, but I realize a younger actor was needed here. When ideas like this run around my brain during a thriller, it bugs me. I’d rather be enjoying the show. And, in addition to Anthony Hopkins’ brilliant performance, there are many things to enjoy in Fracture. The stylish look of the film, David Strathairn’s believable turn as a concerned Los Angeles District Attorney, and the wonderful haunting background music come to mind.     

Like most thrillers, the plot of this movie isn’t perfect. Perceptive viewers will solve the weapon mystery early on -- and the ending seems implausible, considering Ted Crawford’s tremendous intellectual prowress. However, as Ted would probably explain, “Everything has a weak spot if you look close enough -- even Fracture.”

(Released by New Line Cinema and rated “R” for language and some violent content.)

Listen to Betty Jo Tucker discuss Fracture on the ReelTalk Radio Show by clicking here.


                                                                                                                                                                               
 
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