I’m scared of Anthony Hopkins. There, I said it. The cat is out of the bag. Whether the man is eating the flesh of another human being, messing with Jodie Foster’s head while craving fava beans and a nice chianti, playing an English butler, or even just the voice on those exploding Mission: Impossible tapes, the man scares me. I am sure he is a nice man, but that is part of what scares me. You never know when he’s going to snap. Ted Crawford (Hopkins) brutally shoots his wife and waits calmly in his home for the police to arrive and arrest him. He eerily stands in his darkened home, the body of his wife lying in a pool of blood mere feet from where he is standing. When the police arrive, he puts up no fight. He doesn’t scream, he doesn’t shout. They have the murder weapon, and he’s nice enough to give them a signed confession.
In comes hot shot Deputy District Attorney Willy Beachum (Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling), who is getting ready to take his 97 percent conviction rate to a high-paying job at one of the most prestigious law firms. Just as he is ready to leave, he is handed Crawford’s case, which he believes to be a slam dunk. The murder weapon is in the evidence room along side the signed confession from the man who pulled the trigger. What could possibly go wrong?
Fracture allows Hopkins to show why he is so highly regarded as an actor. He plays these ultra-smart psychopathic characters with such ease, it is truly scary to watch. And it’s not because he’s out chopping people up with saws or medieval torture devices. This is not a horror movie. In this movie, he’s a plain man who is extraordinarily smart and has a reason for everything he does, step by step. Every twist and turn is methodical, planned out to perfection. Crawford knows that Beachum is arrogant, and he knows he has the upper hand because there are things about the case that only two people know, he and the arresting officer Rob Nunally (Billy Burke). The story and the intrigue that follows is what makes Fracture work on so many levels, and director Gregory Hoblit uses his cast perfectly. He lets Hopkins loose, but never takes anything away from Gosling, knowing he can hold his own. Hoblit also was not short on quality support from other actors, such as David Strathairn as the district attorney, and Rosamund Pike as Nikki Gardner, a lawyer working in the firm Beachum is going to, as well as his love interest.
As intriguing as the story is, there are parts of the film that tend to drag, and it’s mainly when Hopkins is not on screen. That’s not to say that Gosling and the others don’t give fine performances, it’s just that you want to see more and more of Hopkins as the story goes on. It’s not like Silence of the Lambs where Hannibal Lecter directs things from afar and you don’t need to see Hopkins to know that he is ready to stir up trouble. In Fracture, you want to see him because he’s in control. He’s the one with all the cards in his hands until the final minutes of the movie. He’s playing the game the way it should be played, and he plays it so well that you do not want to deal with the rest of the story. That is where the story trails off for Fracture.
The film, however, does not drag because of Gosling. He just happens to be in a lot of the scenes that tend to help the film, but aren't as intriguing as other parts. I was a little bored with the love story. While it added even more depth to Gosling’s character, and the chemistry between he and Pike is not terrible. It just doesn't become an interesting part of the movie. But Gosling shows exactly why he was nominated for an Academy Award. His transition for cocky attorney to a worn down, almost beaten man is terrific.
What really makes this movie work is its intensity in the courtroom. Watching each character work the courtroom is exciting and fun. Crawford, who decides to defend himself, plays it stupid in the courtroom, seemingly not knowing the correct legal terms or procedures, but he masterfully gets his point across, providing original and unusual plot twists. This is what a courtroom drama should feel like.
Fracture is a stylish, old-fashioned thriller that is harnessed by some great performances and a terrific script from David Payne and Glenn Gers. It does have its shortcomings, but it will give you a steady dose of suspense and keep you on your toes throughout, as you try to figure out how Crawford is able to get away with the seemingly perfect crime. By the time the movie is over, despite the few parts that lag in the middle, you will feel like Beachum – worn out, tired and even scared – after dealing with Crawford. After being thoroughly entertained by the movie, the one thing I was excited not to see on the special features was the typical “Making of” feature. I had a great time watching Hopkins and Gosling battle wits on screen, I didn’t need to see them dumb it down while telling me how they got into character or how great the director was at molding together a great script. There are only three features on this disc, one of which has nothing to do with the film, but trust me when I say that they are more than enough.
The best and main feature contains five deleted scenes and two alternate endings. I find it fun to watch scenes filmmakers cut out of movies. You start to think to yourself, “Why did they delete this,” or, “Would this have fit anywhere in the movie?” Sometimes, it’s all too obvious why the decided to cut the scenes. But, the scenes do make you think just like the movie. The alternate endings give you another taste of ways the movie could have gone, but I truly enjoyed the ending they chose. It wraps up the film nicely, even though I don’t think the filmmakers would have been wrong choosing either of the alternates.
The other feature having to do with the film is simply the theatrical trailer. There’s no flash to the special features, but really nothing to bore you or get you sick of the movie either, which I truly appreciate from a movie like this. It’s not a movie that will wind up in the AFI Top 100 list, but it is something that will keep you entertained for two hours.
The final section of the special features contains trailers for The Golden Compass, The Number 23, Michael Clayton, Jekyll and the 25th anniversary edition of Blade Runner. Together, it makes for a rather impressive group of trailers.
The special features, like the movie, are simple and stylish. It doesn't offer you more than you want, and it doesn't leave you bored at any point. These are features you like to watch because the movie is entertaining and doesn't outlast its welcome.
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