Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

It is admirable in these days of action-with-everything that a thriller can be conceived as a mind game. Fracture is clever, masterfully controlled by an actor whose love affair with the camera never seems to wane. Sadly, too many loose threads remain hanging at the end and liberties with plot lines are seen to be cavalier at best, which does not affect the enjoyment of watching the sophistication of this intriguing howdidit.

The battle of wills is between Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins), a wealthy businessman, with a fascination for aerodynamics, and Willy Beacham (Ryan Gosling), a cocky young lawyer, working in the DA’s office. After Ted’s wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) is found shot in the head on the floor of their multi-million dollar home in Los Angeles, he is arrested for her attempted murder, while she is taken to hospital in a coma.

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Everything about Willy spells upward mobility, including his barely suppressed contempt for the head of the practice (David Strathairn), whose authority he resents, and his flirtation with the sexy head of department (Rosamund Pike), who goes out of her way, as she likes to remind him, to put a good word in when the going gets tough.

Willy sees the Crawford case as open and shut. After all, Ted was the only person in the house at the time of the shooting and when he insists on defending himself, it appears even simpler. Two things bother him. The first is the gun and the second is Ted.

Despite many searches of the mansion and grounds, the cops can’t find the weapon. Ted, meanwhile, teases Willy.

“I’m not going to play with you,” Willy snaps.

“I am afraid you will have to, boyo,” Ted says, with a Cheshire smile.

Of course, Ted is a games player and Willy is a lawyer who “keeps asked the same question until you get the answer you want”. When Ted informs the judge (Fiona Shaw) at the trial that the arresting officer (Billy Burke), who was present at the police station when Ted “confessed”, had been having an affair with Jennifer, the legality of Willy’s case collapses.

The film is not concerned with guilt, or innocence, so much as what does Willy do now? Unlike Ted, who uses charm as a surgeon uses a scalpel, Willy is too wrapped up in his own self-importance to be an attractive protagonist and Gosling, to his credit, doesn’t play the hero, adding conviction to the performance.

Hopkins seldom disappoints, although sleepwalking through a role would still be interesting, because his technique is flawless. He is wide awake here, however, and if Ted’s weakness is pride and an insatiable desire to show off his mental superiority, Hopkins controls the film with a twitch of an eyelid and the conviction of a winning smile.

Reviewed on: 21 Apr 2007
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An attempted murder leads to legal mind games in a Los Angeles courtroom.
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Director: Gregory Hoblit

Writer: Daniel Pyne, Glenn Gers

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn, Rosamund Pike, Embeth Davidtz, Billy Burke, Cliff Curtis, Fiona Shaw, Bob Gunton, Josh Stamberg, Xander Berkeley

Year: 2007

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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