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August 7, 2007

Fracture is not a Hitchcock classic like Vertigo or The 39 Steps , nor does it have the complexities of a Chinatown neither does it have the twist ending of The Usual Suspects . It is a straightforward thriller, with no major twists and turns. But yet it is much better than most of the duds we had from Hollywood this summer.

Fracture is the story of an engineer, Ted Crawford( Anthony Hopkins), who shoots his wife Jennifer( Embeth Davidz), after discovering that she has been sleeping around with a cop Rob Nunally( Billy Burke). Crawford immediately confesses to his crime and surrenders. However when the complaint is being taken, he retracts his statement. The evidence is clearly loaded against Crawford, and district attorney Willy Beachum( Ryan Gosling) , whose career is on the rise, convinced that this is an open and shut case, takes it, much against the advice of his superior Joe Lobruto( David Strathairn). And that’s where the fun begins.

Willy finds himself in a battle of wits with Ted and is helpless before his manipulations and scheming. Ted first provokes Nunally into attacking him, by stating that he is the same cop who arrested him. Nunally falls for the trap. Willy then discovers that Ted’s handgun was not used to shoot his wife, and so Ted is acquitted. Willy now becomes obsessed with the case, and wants to prove Ted’s guilt. The movie now becomes a battle of wits between Ted and Willy. In the meanwhile, there is the mysterious female Nikki Gardner( Rosamund Pike) who tries to seduce and lure Willy away from his path. Watch the movie to see who wins the fascinating battle of wits.

Fracture is a pretty much straight forward thriller, but what works a lot for this movie is the cat and mouse game between Ted and Willy. We are drawn into this intriguing battle, and often end up asking “What is going to happen next? ” . We all know that Ted indeed is the killer, but we are eager to see how long he can go along with his manipulation and scheming. The scene where Ted taunts his wife’s lover to attack him in court is excellently shot, as is the scene where Ted shoots his wife. Also the scene where Nunally arrives at the scene of the crime, and Ted negotiates with him is quite chilling. But again the weak point is the climax. When you have a cat and mouse game, you expect a sort of battle between equals, but here it’s Ted, who keeps winning, though he is the villain.

Also Willie comes off as a sort of over smart, cocky guy, and when he is losing you do feel that he deserves it. I guess this is where the movie falters, while the anti hero character is well developed, the hero character is not that well developed. The balance is not properly maintained, and we end up cheering more for Ted, though we know that he is the culprit. And again the climax is pretty vague, and a total cop out.

If you still like the movie inspite of the flaws, it’s because of Anthony Hopkins . While this is no Hannibal Lecter, Hopkins still manages to pull off quite a punch, playing the scheming, manipulative Ted Crawford . Watch his expressions in the court scene, where he provokes his wife’s lover to attacking him, just brilliant. As also in the scene when he tells his wife, he loves her, before pulling the trigger on her.
Pitted against a veteran like Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, nevertheless manages to hold his own. However a more experienced actor, would have made those stand off scenes memorable. Rosamund Pike as the temptress is sexy enough. All in all not a great movie, but fairly interesting and watchable, due to it’s plot, Anthony Hopkins and a tight screenplay. And much better than Spidey-3, POC-3 and a whole host of crap that has come from Hollywood this year. That says a lot for it.
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