One would think that a film starring Hannibal Lecter, a young Oscar nominee and the director of Primal Fear would be destined for greatness, right? While the film Fracture does a great job with its cast and directing, the story seems to have so many twists and turns it becomes a film completely different than intended. Some may say that’s what makes a thriller so engaging, I would say it just draws out the inevitable.
Young William Beechum (Ryan Gosling) is a criminal lawyer destined for greatness with a new job at a high powered firm and a blossoming romance with his boss played by Rosamund Pike. All Beechum needs to do is close one last case, that of the attempted murder by Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) of his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz). What should be an open and shut case is anything but with Crawford playing mind games and leaving Beechum with nothing. As Willy starts to lose control of everything he has to dig even deeper into the mind of a clever individual.
Now if you’ve seen director Gregory Hobolit’s film Primal Fear, Fracture is very much that film in reverse. Where Primal Fear had an older lawyer defending a young murderer, this film has a young lawyer going up against an older murderer. Also, if you’ve seen Silence of the Lambs you can make many comparisons there as well. That doesn’t necessarily make Fracture a bad film though. The film is a very interesting thriller in that of one man trying like hell to beat the system. The film is very much an intricate game highlighted by having recurring Rube Goldberg kinetic sculptures used throughout to show the growing metaphor of the film, that of a never-ending series of twists and turns. The film also tries to show many different types of court cases, what starts as a case involving attempted murder turns into fighting for the right to life then turning into actual murder and all three cases are melded amazingly.
Where Fracture ultimately falls is in the execution of the story and the trailers. The trailers are incredibly misleading, emphasizing the interaction between Gosling and Hopkins and showing this as a straight “how did this guy get off” type of film. The two main actors actually have very little time on screen together, in fact Hopkins is only in the film for about 45 minutes total throughout. The murder of Hopkins wife in the film is also very much overshadowed; this film is largely about Beechum’s fight to pin something on Crawford. I would have loved some more interaction with Hopkins and Gosling, I would have enjoyed even more interaction between Hopkins and Davidtz, her character is vastly underused. While the film tries to meld three separate cases it does get incredibly long and starts to drag. Somehow Beechum tries to make a fight for a right to life case so that he can keep Crawford’s wife alive, that comes way too late in the story and is quickly dropped. Then we have another ten minutes of a different way to pin something on Hopkins, the story just drags out way too long. You will be checking your watch a bit towards the end. There is also a huge problem with accents in this film. Gosling seems to be trying out some Kansas type of accent that tends to lighten up as the film progresses. Rosamund Pike has an accent of unknown origin that is distracting, but nothing is more distracting than Anthony Hopkins mysterious Irish accent which gets more pronounced at one point than disappears then reappears, very distracting and annoying. The relationship between Gosling and Pike’s characters comes very much out of the blue and was very unnecessary as well, in fact I think it prolonged the story, to add to that I actually don’t think Rosamund Pike was needed and this seems to really be a low point in her character.
The cast that Hobolit has assembled for this film is very much top notch. Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling is amazing as always as the charming young lawyer. You could easily be swayed in a court by this guy, and while this performance is nowhere near his turn in Half Nelson it is worthy. Anthony Hopkins is scary and hilarious as the murderer Ted Crawford. He still has that Hannibal Lector horror that you come to expect and it’s great to watch him toy with Gosling; he also has a lot of humorous moments and one-liners that I didn’t expect. While these two actors are the main draws, the supporting cast is also exceptional in their reduced screen time. I adore Embeth Davidtz and her small role in this film was captivating, I was very sad to see her reduced to being a coma patient throughout the rest of the film. Billy Burke and David Strathairn also provide good turns as well.
I really wanted to enjoy Fracture, I mean with all the talent behind it you would think it would do well. It just tries to be too plot driven and that is its downfall. There are too many pieces to the puzzle that you actually start to lose interest. I was very disappointed and hope these actors can produce better work in the future.