Friday, May 04, 2007

Movies: Fracture

• Don't look for cracks — just enjoy the surprisingly gripping ride.

Genres: Thriller, courtroom
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, Billy Burke, David Strathairn, Rosamund Pike
Run time: 1:52
Verdict: &&&1/2

Ryan Gosling is a hotshot assistant district attorney with one foot out the door to a lucrative private firm when he's roped into one last trial involving Anthony Hopkins in full Oscar-winning villain mode. Structural engineer Ted Crawford (Hopkins) has rolled the ultimate revenge and mind game into one as he shoots his philandering wife in a carefully executed plan that dispatches her while ensnaring her partner in lust — a hostage negotiator (Billy Burke) who gets called to the scene of the shooting after Crawford holes up inside and the hired help reports trouble. Taking what appears at first to be an open-and-shut case buttressed by a signed confession, Assistant D.A. Willy Beachum (Gosling) finds himself in a downward spiral as Crawford improbably represents himself well at trial and moves the pawns of his devious plan. Hopkins exudes sophisticated menace so effortlessly that the viewer can forget about fava beans and chianti, although this character has some memorable lines, as well. (I particularly liked, "Knowledge is pain. I'm used to that.") Fracture is engaging to an unlikely degree and overcomes its preposterousness thanks largely to two great actors in top form; in lesser hands, it would likely collapse under its own ridiculous weight. It may be a slick, hammy thriller, but it's an expertly cured slice of ham that only slightly disappoints at the end.

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