out of Five
Running time: 113
Enjoyable, stylishly directed thriller with a gripping plot and superb performances from Gosling and Hopkins.
What's it all about?
Anthony Hopkins stars as Ted Crawford, a wealthy structural engineer who calmly shoots his wife (Embeth Davidtz) after discovering her affair with Detective Rob Nunally (Billy Burke). When he's arrested, he confesses to attempted murder and waives his right to an attorney during his arraignment, insisting that he'll defend himself.
When hot-shot District Attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) accepts the case (at Crawford's insistence), he believes it'll be a simple open-and-shut job, which suits him fine since he's on the brink of starting a lucrative job in corporate law, under gorgeous new boss Rosamund Pike. However, when the trial goes disastrously wrong, it becomes clear that the seemingly disingenuous Crawford has planned the perfect murder and Beachum puts his career on the line in order to bring him to justice.
First things first: Fracture is both beautifully shot and far better than both the trailer and the poster would have you believe. Director Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear, Fallen, Frequency) knows a thing or two about thrillers and he maintains a tense atmosphere throughout, as Crawford and Beachum engage in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse.
Hopkins is clearly enjoying himself enormously, disguising his character's clinical, cold-hearted intelligence with disarmingly funny lines of dialogue, although his decision to give Crawford an on-again-off-again Irish accent was probably a mistake. Gosling is equally good and the script really takes the trouble to establish his character and situation so that we understand exactly what's at stake.
There's strong support from both Billy Burke and Rosamund Pike, whose ill-advised relationship with Beachum adds an extra layer of tension, but the always excellent David Strathairn is underused as Beachum's benevolent boss.
This is a superbly directed, impressively acted and pleasingly plausible thriller that, for once, doesn't disappoint in the final reel. Worth seeing.