Gosling Cracks Hopkins Perfect Murder
There is a sort of irony to Ryan Gosling starring alongside Anthony Hopkins in the clever thriller "Fracture" because back in 2002 he played the cocky teenager Richard Haywood who tries to commit the perfect murder in "Murder by Numbers" and now he is playing an attorney trying to prove that someone else committed what appears to be a perfect murder. Which brings me on to "Fracture" a well made, intelligent thriller which keeps you engrossed from start to finish with a clever story line and interesting characters which make you shift loyalties as the movie progresses in an almost chess like battle between killer and attorney.
After discovering his wife having an affair, wealthy and intelligent structural engineer Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins - Mission: Impossible II) shoots her and at the same time entraps her lover. But when it comes to his trial he pleads not guilty despite having signed a confession and waited to be arrested. Young, enthusiastic and arrogant DA Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling - The Notebook) takes the case despite having one foot out of the DA's door and into a new job at a lucrative private law firm. But what seems a simple case turns in to much more when it appears that it is impossible to prove Crawford's guilt.
In a genre which is packed with unoriginal, overly contrived movies "Fracture" certainly stands out because it doesn't over crowd matters with needless padding. It keeps things simple and we know who the good guy and bad guy is right from the start. But the interest comes from watching the two characters battle against each other as Ted almost toys with Willy taunting him with the fact that the proof that he committed the murder can't be found even though we know he did it. It makes it surprisingly intelligent just like watching a chess game as they attempt to out manoeuvre each other with the stakes being prison for Ted or in the case of Willy a failed career and bruised ego. As such it slowly unravels with both the clues coming to the fore whilst Ted's superior intellect makes him a powerful opponent.
What makes it all the more interesting is that it not so messes with your mind but more with your loyalties. You know that Ted murdered his wife, you know the reason why and as such you should want him to get justice but because Willy is so arrogant so career minded and cocky that strangely you start out wanting Ted to get away with it, to pull of the perfect murder and see Willy get taken down a peg or two. But as the movie progresses as Willy becomes determined to find the evidence and Ted becomes more arrogant your loyalties switch, you begin to hope that Ted gets caught out. As such "Fracture" keeps you engrossed because you want to find out how he managed to be so illusive, how he covered his tracks despite everything pointing at him.
But here lies where "Fracture" spoils things and delivers the ending which is so unoriginal that you feel like kicking yourself. The intelligence is still there but it feels almost contrived, beyond believability as well as a little simplistic. Which leads me to another minor niggle and that is there are elements to "Fracture" which are just unbelievable, such as the scene where Willy is in Ted's office searching for clues and the incarcerated Ted phones him up somehow knowing he would be there at that exact time. In a way it spoils things slightly because it makes it all a little too easy.
Aside from this negative "Fracture" does see Anthony Hopkins delivering another clever and creepy performance as murderer Ted Crawford. Hopkins is so brilliant at playing the slightly psychotic characters that it all feels so natural as does the fact that Crawford is both confident and of superior intellect. It's not the most eerie of characters but as already mentioned it strangely makes you champion him to start with because he has this charismatic quality that makes you want him to get away with it, although Hopkins strange accent occasionally spoils things.
Alongside Hopkins is Ryan Gosling who demonstrates why he is such a good actor, making Willy almost loathsome with his cockiness and arrogance yet manages to win us around as his character naturally develops into someone who cares and that you want to see win. It's a clever performance especially in the scenes he shares with Hopkins because there are very few actors who can compete with Hopkins one on one and so he doesn't, he lets Hopkins control those scenes as you would expect from the character of Crawford, yet in his scenes elsewhere Gosling shines with his powerful performance.
So good are the performances from Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling in "Fracture" that no one else makes an impression despite it featuring the likes of David Strathairn, Rosamund Pike, Embeth Davidtz, Billy Burke and Cliff Curtis.
What this all boils down to is that "Fracture" is a very good thriller, one which is clever and keeps you engrossed right up until the end as it slowly unravels the clues making you want to work out how Crawford hid the facts. But it spoils things slightly by delivering an ending which doesn't quite have the intelligence of what went before and features a few scenes which are just a little too easy and contrived.