“Fracture” Film Review
Published in Elmhurst Leader
By Ryan Fergus
It’s hard not to be a bit wary walking into a new Gregory Hoblit film. The dubious filmmaker is best known for shlocky adult thrillers such as Hart’s War, Fallen and most famously, his 1996 courtroom thriller Primal Fear. With Fracture, starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling, Hoblit doles out more of the same. Everything you’d expect is here, from dramatic courtroom face-offs, a laughably tacked-on love story and a twist at the end that aims to rival Ed Norton’s psychopathic reveal at the end of Primal Fear.
Gosling, fresh off his Oscar-nominated role is last year’s Half Nelson, plays Willy Beachum, a young hotshot D.A. who takes on one last case (isn’t it always?) at his old firm before moving on to greener pastures an attorney for the Mayor’s office. The case, involving an engineer (Hopkins) who purposefully kills his cheating wife, should be a slam-dunk. Naturally the plot thickens, and Hopkins, recalling the sinister scenery chewing of his most famous methodical maniac, positions himself (through a series of incomprehensibly coincidental events ) into a battle of wits against the young lawyer. This of course paves the way for tense confrontations in both the courtroom as well as the detention block, with Gosling managing to hold his own against Sir Anthony, who clearly seems to be relishing another chance to unspool cryptic clues from behind a jail cell and lock horns with a young and worthy adversary.
Unfortunately, any time these two aren’t battling it out head-to-head is when the movie falls apart. Hoblit inexplicably shoehorns a romantic subplot involving Beachum and his soon-to-be boss (played with a mock-carnality by relative new-comer Rosamund Pike) that is not only offensively unbelievable, but threatens to bring the movie to a screeching halt every time the two characters are on screen together. Only when Hopkins’s scorned husband ghoulishly returns to the frame does Fracture retain any sort of emotional resonance.
Although the film breaks no new ground, you can bet it will appeal to fans of the genre, as well as adults who want to go to the movies on a Friday night and see a familiar name on the marquee. While the ever-brilliant Hopkins seems to have found a comfortable niche in which to play out his twilight years as an actor, one hopes that with his newfound slingshot to the Hollywood A-list, Gosling doesn’t get too bogged down in mire like this. For a fat paycheck and chance to square off against Sir Anthony, we’ll let you slide kid. But we’re keeping an eye out.