‘Fracture’ falls on its face

David Evans

Oscar-winning cast isn’t enough to support weak plot

For a movie fanatic, getting the opportunity to see a motion picture starring multiple past Oscar nominees is a rare treat. Casting such a decorated pair of leads usually works out for the film as well.

So with four-time Oscar nominee Anthony Hopkins (who took home the statuette in 1992) starring with Ryan Gosling, who garnered his first nomination in 2007 for his role in the independent film Half Nelson, movie fanatics should have high expectations for Fracture.

Those expectations are immediately dashed due to a lackluster plot, among other glaring flaws.

The plot to this crime suspense follows its six word tagline to the letter: “I shot my wife . prove it.” Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs, Meet Joe Black) plays wealthy structural engineer Ted Crawford, who within the first 15 minutes shoots his adulterous wife, leaving her in a coma, and then admits it to the police who show up at his mansion.

Gosling (The Notebook, Remember the Titans) stars as Willy Beachum, an up-and-coming attorney with a 97 percent conviction rate working for the district attorney’s office. Beachum represents the state at Crawford’s arraignment. Crawford elects to represent himself and asks to have Beachum stay on for the prosecution because, “he likes him.” Beachum agrees, despite only having two weeks left at the DA’s office before moving to a big corporate law firm.

Despite Crawford’s confession the state’s case falls through as evidence goes missing and a key witness testimony is thrown out. With his new job in jeopardy Beachum struggles to make a case, while Crawford seems to be holding all the cards.

Beachum soon becomes obsessed with the pursuit, playing right into the sinister Crawford’s hand. Beachum lets his vanity get the best of him, a weakness Crawford had been playing from the beginning and has to deal with a few moral crises: Should he fake evidence? Should he just drop the case and forget about Crawford?

Eventually Beachum loses the case, and with it, his job. In the loss he remembers why he wanted to become a public servant in the first place. And, realizes that he wants to put Crawford away not to boost his own ego or conviction rate, but because he nearly killed his own wife.

If you are looking for a big payoff in the end, the kind that can make a movie in this genre a legend because audiences will be talking about it for decades, you will find yourself left wanting.

Despite the weak story, Fracture is slightly redeemed by strong performances by Hopkins and Gosling and a great supporting cast led by David Strathairn of Good Night and Good Luck.

Hopkins is always at his best when he is playing the intelligent, articulate, and psychotically deranged antagonist – a mold that Fracture‘s Ted Crawford fits perfectly.

Since proving to be a viable leading man back in 2004, Gosling has shown versatility and refused to be typecast. He manages to accomplish something that is almost more impressive. He manages to use his onscreen charm and wit to steal the scene from Hopkins from time to time.

All in all, Fracture shouldn’t be breaking into the 2008 awards race, but Gosling and Hopkins sharing the silver screen will keep you entertained.

Contact ALL correspondent David Evans at [email protected].