BY PATRICIA DRAZNIN
Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) turns his trial for murder updside down in Fracture. © 2007 New Line Productions.
The theme of the fine-tuned mystery Fracture is that everyone has his weakness. And whoever finds the fragile breaking point in his opponent can win the game—the game being The State of California vs. Theodore Crawford.
Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) has confessed to shooting his adulterous wife in the head, which we witness at the opening of the film. For Crawford’s arraignment, the prosecution appoints the young, cocky, and successful Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling). Beachum is reluctant to take the case because his career clock is ticking—he’s leaving the District Attorney’s office to join a prominent corporate law firm. Perceiving the open/shut case as a brief interruption to packing up his office, he agrees. But to his surprise, he finds himself being sucked into a complicated game of wits navigated by the frighteningly brilliant Ted Crawford. Willy Beachum is a winner who has met his match.
Crawford, who has chosen to represent himself, turns the trial upside-down when he implicates the investigating detective (Billy Burke) to whom he confessed. And in a stroke of maniacal genius, he makes it impossible for the prosecution to locate the key evidence: the murder weapon.
Fracture plays out as a tug of egos between two big brains that pulls us through an exciting 112 minutes of maddening twists and turns. And the film is all the richer for its key players, Gosling and Hopkins. Gosling appears to have claimed a spot on the A-list since his fine Oscar-nominated role in Half Nelson. And Hopkins . . . has he ever let us down?
Like the premise, the story has its own minor weakness, such as an awkward romantic development that’s pretty darn bogus. Then again, it’s probably illegal in Hollywood to shoot a film without a bed scene. And David Strathairn is underutilized in the thin role of District Attorney. But never mind. We can overlook these small fracture points for the sake of entertainment that the rest of the story delivers. B+