Legal drama with Ryan Gosling attempting to prove that Anthony Hopkins is guilty of murder, despite an inconvenient lack of evidence. Rosamund Pike and Fiona Shaw co-star.
Anthony Hopkins is engineer Ted Crawford. He's first seen brooding over a huge, self-built executive toy, loaded with ball-bearings, and with Hopkins' combination of hooded eyes, jowly face and spiked, silver thatch conjuring an image caught mid-way between Malcolm McDowell and Les Dawson, it's little wonder that Crawford's wife (Embeth Daviditz, Mad Men, Bridget Jones's Diary) has decided to grab herself a little hot stuff on the side with local hostage negotiator Rob Nunally (Billy Burke, The Twilight Saga).
However, the naughty lovebirds should have known better than to tangle with a man who analyses aeronautical stress fractures for a living, for Hopkins is a clever old fox and in no time he's exacting an overly-complex revenge by heading home dressed as Bing Crosby, shooting his wife, then calmly hanging about for the cops to roll up.
An OJ Simpson style car chase might have livened things at this point, but instead we're introduced to Ryan Gosling (Drive, Blue Valentine) as rising-star lawyer Willy Beachum, possessed of a Foghorn-Leghorn southern drawl and an expression suggesting that he's just woken up on someone else's sofa. What follows is a battle of wits between Gosling, naively assuming he has an open and shut case, and infuriating, low-key Hopkins (representing himself of course - this after all is a Hollywood courtroom thriller) who seems to have magically second-guessed everything and covered his tracks surprisingly well for a man who confessed at the scene of the crime.
Despite this ludicrous premise, Fracture is pretty entertaining as the audience is left to admire Crawford's intricate planning and figure out how he got rid of vital evidence. This aspect is considerably more fun than watching a non-romance non-blossom between Gosling and Rosamund Pike, here starring as an ambitious attorney and sticking to her chosen accent better than Hopkins.
While Pike puts in a nice performance, it's difficult to see what her character's doing here beyond providing an agreeable face for those not won over by the charms of Fiona Shaw's gavel-happy judge, pretty much the only other prominent female in the cast, unless you count Davidtz who spends much of the film in a coma having her feet tickled for signs of life.
Hopkins does get some funny dialogue, much of it either neatly trading on or deflating his other famous criminal mastermind role; indeed when Hopkins delivers a chillingly spot-on appraisal of Gosling's southern roots and lifestyle, only to reveal that the info came from a private eye, one detects the veteran thesp relishing the opportunity to mock his greatest hits package.
The villain is more interesting than the hero, but Fracture functions well enough as a fun piece of puzzle-solving.