U.S. Release Date: April 20, 2007
Distributor: New Line
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Composer: Mychael Danna
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn, Embeth Davidtz, Rosamund Pike, Billy Burke, Cliff Curtis, Zoe Kazan
Running Time: 1 hour and 53 minutes
MPAA Rating: R (language and some violent content)

Legal Thriller Lacks Credibility
by Scott Holleran

Anthony Hopkins can practically sail through any part and the ridiculous murder suspect he plays in the overwrought, heavy-handed Fracture is his newest semi-showcase. That's semi because he is hardly in it, playing second banana to the talented but miscast and misdirected Ryan Gosling.

Hangdog, southern drawling Gosling portrays an ambitious Los Angeles attorney who, in this clunky crime story, takes an open and shut attempted homicide case just as he's leaving for an opportunity in corporate law. That is wonderful news to his hot to trot new boss, played by the mousy and equally miscast Rosamund Pike, and disappointing to his straight arrow District Attorney (David Straithairn).

The D.A.'s loss is a gain for murderous Hopkins, who shot his young wife in the head and framed the cop (Billy Burke) with whom she was having an affair. The polished thriller slowly moves from the attempted murder—wifey survived and lies in a coma for most of the movie—through the court case with Gosling's assistant D.A. and into the final stretch for the standard twists and turnabouts.

Fracture is unnecessarily by the book, with crooked cops, switcheroos and the generational contest. It's pretty clear from the first folksy mention about finding hairline fractures on eggs by cool customer Hopkins that Gosling will turn the tables and, when it happens, it simply isn't credible.

As the young lawyer, Gosling plays as if he's doing a John Grisham adaptation, spilling coffee on his suit, sweet-talking office females and acting like a blend of Matlock and Matthew McConaughey. As hard as L.A.'s high-powered attorneys work inside those gleaming office towers, this huckster wouldn't last five minutes in a top job interview.

It's not that his ability to win cases is not proven before the judge—though it isn't and do not expect courtroom drama—but he doesn't really solve the mystery; it sort of comes to him, almost by accident. Gosling and Pike, in a romantic subplot that nearly sinks the whole case, overact and play dress up like it's a made-for-TV version of The Jagged Edge. Their scenes are cringe inducing.

When Fracture isn't spending time on a static workplace romance, it's laying on convenient and implausible plot points such as suicide and assisted suicide—with help from a Catholic hospital staff—while building up to the big Reveal.

Part of the problem in this fragmented story is its attempt to convey the idea that nobody's perfect and that those who come closest are the ones who can rise above their flaws, which could have been an involving morality trial. Watching Hopkins' jaded schemer manipulate Gosling's ascendant L.A. lawyer would have been a treat in itself.

But the makers opt instead for an anti-business ethics lesson, equating ambition with corruption and mistaking self-centeredness for selfishness. They bang this point repeatedly, bashing common sense and enjoyment right out of the picture. Fracture isn't awful, but it's more flawed than not.

Michael Clayton
Tepid Affair Scores Style Points
The Life of David Gale
The Ultimate Liberal Thriller
High Crimes
High Crimes Puts Judd in Jeopardy
No Pulp In Panama