Good idea hobbled by poor execution
By Lady Liberty
** out of ****
There aren't too many things I enjoy more than a taut and tense drama starring some accomplished thespians. From its previews, Fracture looked to be just such a film, so I was perfectly happy to settle into my seat with some popcorn and a desire to be entertained. As it happened, the popcorn was cold and the movie not quite as hot as I'd hoped it would be.
Ted Crawford (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is an aeronautics engineer in late middle age. His many achievements include a successful business, a lavish home and lifestyle, and a beautiful wife. Jennifer Crawford (Embeth Davidtz) is, however, disenchanted with her husband. As a result, she engages in a heated affair with a handsome — and much younger than her husband — man (Billy Burke).
When Ted learns that Jennifer has been unfaithful, he lashes out to wound her as much as she's hurt him. He confronts her with what he knows, and then he ends the affair in the most expedient means possible: He shoots her.
Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) is a firebrand lawyer who works for the District Attorney's (David Strathairn) office. His enviable percentage of case wins has landed him the job offer of his dreams at a prestigious local firm. His boss to be is a beautiful woman (Rosamund Pike) who seems like she might have some extracurricular interest in her newest hire. Life is good! All Willy has to do is dispose of one last case.
The Crawford case is a slam dunk. There's a gun and a confession immediately at hand, and a lawyer like Willy can almost phone in his prosecution. But then things start to go wrong in just about every way imaginable, and Willy's winning record is the least of the things he stands to lose.
Anthony Hopkins can convey menace, whimsy, insanity, or pain with the barest twitch. His talents are well suited to a role such as that of Ted Crawford — an urbane and highly intelligent man with a streak of pure malevolence hidden deeply in him. Ryan Gosling lives up to his reputation as one of the country's very best young actors. The supporting cast, most notably Billy Burke, is also more than capable.
The director did a reasonable job, and I thought the story was interesting, and the script well written. What I didn't like was the edits. Though few movie goers pay much attention to it, good editing can make a good film even better. Unfortunately, bad editing can take a good film and make it less so. It can even result in a bad film. In the case of Fractured, the edits weren't awful. They just weren't good. And I think this story and this cast deserved far better, never mind the audience.
As a whole, Fracture is a pretty good movie. The story does have some decent twists, the acting is as I mentioned quite good. I was also fascinated with some essentially useless but very cool mechanical devices featured on screen. In addition, as a longtime camera angle buff, I've got to mention that one of the most awesome camera angles I've ever seen was highlighted here. I just find myself regretting that the mediocre editing took what could have been a very good movie across the board and made it...okay.
FAMILY SUITABILITY Fracture is rated R for "language and some violent content." Although there are a few moments that may have warranted the R rating, in general terms, I didn't see much that the average 13 or 14 year-old couldn't see without any problem at all. I'd keep the younger kids home, though, less because of the violence than because of some of the more complicated story line machinations involved.
Lady Liberty, a senior writer for ESR, is a graphic designer and pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House, at http://www.ladylibrty.com. E-mail Lady Liberty at firstname.lastname@example.org.