Fracture starts out strong and involving but it ends with fractured logic.
Until Death Do Us Part
Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs) seems to be a cantankerous, crotchety wad of old flesh that fancies expensive sports cars and Rube Goldbergian contraptions. Heck, he might even be the kind of guy who likes to dine on fava beans.
Nonetheless, he’s married to the lovely Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz, Schindler’s List). A woman nearly half his age, she’s full of life and easy on the eyes. It doesn’t really jibe that these two ever got together and, given the circumstances, her affair with Rob Nunally (Billy Burke, Ladder 49), a man much closer to her own age, isn’t much of a surprise.
Ted’s apparently amassed quite a fortune by analyzing crash wreckage; he helps determine the cause of accidents. Even as a kid, he’d find flaws in chicken eggs. It’s his trade in life, to find faults in things and people.
But maybe Ted isn’t all about cold, detached analytics; maybe he has heart. Maybe deep down he’s just a softy with a mechanical mind. After all, at one point, while confronting his wife about her affair, he asks, “What’s the sound of a feeling?”
And then he says, “Knowledge is pain; I’m used to that.”
Then he shoots his wife at point blank range.
OK, so he’s probably not a softy. One thing’s for certain, Ted is definitely not a professional marksman; his wife winds up in a coma and he’s hauled away on charges of attempted murder.
Don’t Worry About It
The setup works, mostly. The trouble is, things quickly become less straightforward, at least in terms of the law and justice. The gun found at the crime scene was never fired. Ted confessed, but under questionable circumstances.
Leading the prosecution is hot-to-trot public prosecutor Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson). He’s got a 97% success rate in court, mostly because he pawns off the tough cases. He’s also got short-timer’s syndrome; he’s on his way out of criminal law and making the move to corporate.
It seems as if Fracture wants to toy with much larger themes and potential plot twists. Is Willy being set up by his former boss, Joe Lobruto (David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck)? Or maybe his new one, a hot blonde named Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike, Die Another Day)? Or maybe even Ted himself, who at one point offers to hire Willy as his own lawyer?
The elements are there for a soul-sucking, soul-searching courtroom drama, but unfortunately the story devolves into a very ho-hum conclusion after flirting with some high-potential ideas.
Above the Law
On the bright side, director Gregory Hoblit (Hart’s War) has the benefit of a great cast and fine cinematography by Kramer Morgenthau (Mayor of the Sunset Strip).
Hopkins is terrific and, even as he steals scenes by slipping back into some Hannibal Lecter-like mannerisms, Gosling manages to stand toe to toe with the veteran actor.
Unfortunately, all that talent is squandered when Fracture makes some boneheaded moves.
Nikki gets uptight about Willy’s continued dalliances in civil law and expresses concern that upper management might think she lacks control over her new subordinate. But she’s extremely quick to hop into bed with the upstart.
The relationship between Nikki and Willy is profoundly stupid. Sure, it serves to show Willy’s slimy character and questionable judgment. But it also makes Nikki look like an absolutely irresponsible and stereotypically dumb blonde.
If the relationship led to something more significant, like a double cross or some sort of manipulation on her part, at least there would’ve been more meat to it. As it stands, the relationship comes across as thoroughly ill conceived.
Even more disappointing, though, is the ending. It’s not nearly as smart as the writers (Daniel Pyne, 2004’s remake of The Manchurian Candidate, and Glenn Gers, The Accountant) no doubt thought it was. It depends more on a wing and a prayer than on logic and cleverness.
With only a little more due diligence, Fracture might have been a case worth taking a crack at.