Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling are electrifying in Gregory Hoblit's otherwise mediocre thriller, "Fracture". The pair put on a terrific cat and mouse display, only to be let down by the tremendous inadequacies of the screenplay. Hopkins stars as Ted Crawford, a ruthless and calculating aircraft designer. Crawford watches as his younger wife (Embeth Davidtz) engages in a steamy affair with an LAPD homicide detective (Billy Burke). Crawford shoots his wife when she returns home from a tryst; then quickly confesses to the crime. Willy Beachum (Gosling) is a hotshot deputy DA who's just snared a dream job with LA's best law firm. He's handed the 'slam dunk' prosecution of Crawford's case, but tragically underestimates the cunning defendant. Beachum is thwarted when the police cannot find the murder weapon. The gun Crawford claimed to use had never been fired. The pair then engages in a battle of wits as Beachum struggles to keep Crawford locked up.
The glaring flaw with "Fracture" is that the so-called twist is painfully obvious from the beginning of the film. The acting is phenomenal, but that doesn't make up for two hours of sitting around while the characters plod their way to the payoff. It's astonishing that screenwriter Daniel Pyne could write such great dialogue between the lead characters, but fail to deliver a worthy climax. This may be one of those rare cases where the gravitas and skill of the actors outshine the written word on the page. I can't help but feel that the performances raised the level of the script in the eyes of the filmmakers, unfortunately to a point where they didn't see how transparent their story was.
Another issue I have with "Fracture" is the way the police are portrayed. Willing suspension of disbelief is needed for every film, but I had a hard time buying the police's actions. They do incredibly stupid things and put themselves in situations that no cop with half a brain would ever commit to. I can understand that Crawford is a genius, but that doesn't mean that the police have to be imbeciles. Some might say that's too specific a criticism, but the police behavior in this film is completely unrealistic.
Anthony Hopkins is one of Hollywood's most revered veterans and the star of this film, but the limelight shines brightly on Ryan Gosling here. I've been a fan of Gosling's for a while now, but he really took his talents to another level with last year's Oscar nominated performance in "Half Nelson". He's got the acting chops, and proves it again by going toe-to-toe with Hopkins. There isn't a scene in this film that is stolen by Hopkins. Gosling stands his ground and pulls off the screen presence needed to counteract an imposing figure like Hopkins. It's marvelous to see and the saving grace of this film.
"Fracture" has all the elements needed for a great film, but only delivers with the performances. It could have been a much better film if the time had been taken to shore up the story. That said, the acting is good enough to warrant a trip to the theater.