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Genre: Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by: Gregory Hoblit
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, Rosamund Pike, David Straitharn, Embeth Davidtz, Billy Burke, Cliff Curtis, Fiona Shaw, Bob Gunton
Released by: New Line Cinema

In Short: A rip roarin’ cat-and-mouse thriller that pits a middle-aged wife killer against an ambitious young district attorney.

Brilliantly Putting the Pieces Together
A Crackerjack Thriller
by Jenny Peters

As “Fracture” begins, it is hard to figure out how it is going to be interesting. Anthony Hopkins plays Ted Crawford, a rich and successful aeronautics mogul who murders his philandering wife within the first few minutes of the film, seemingly in plain view of their home security cameras. It’s a beginning that hearkens back to television’s “Columbo,” where we know whodunit right from the get-go; and in that classic show’s fine tradition, that’s the way “Fracture” stays incredibly fascinating. We know the killer, but director Gregory Hoblit and a talented cast still keep us on the edge of our seats for the rest of the film, wondering if and how he’s going to get caught.

Ryan Gosling in Fracture
Ryan Gosling and Rosamund Pike

We wonder, because unlike Columbo, this story’s protagonist is a little too big for his britches. Ryan Gosling, the ex-“All New Mickey Mouse Club” kid who is all grown up and fresh off his first Oscar nomination for “Half Nelson,” plays Willie Beachum, a young, cocky, never-lose D.A. who is about to jump into a very lucrative private practice as Crawford’s seemingly open-and-shut case hits his desk.

Anthony Hopkins in Fracture

But it isn’t a slam dunk after all; instead, a classic cat-and-mouse game begins between this brilliant criminal and the too-confident prosecutor, complete with clever twists, turns, and surprises. Hoblit deftly uses his past experience as a producer-director on “L. A. Law” and “Hill Street Blues” and as the director of the hit courtroom flick “Primal Fear” to create a perfectly paced thriller. With nary a dull spot nor slow moment, Hoblit keeps the action crackling; quite a feat for a film that spends large chunks of time inside a courtroom or beside a hospital bed.

Credit goes to Hoblit (and screenwriters Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers) for weaving together such a compelling story, but it is the fine casting that elevates “Fracture” so far above a typical Hollywood thriller. Hopkins is at his best here, pitch perfect as the emotionally dead husband whose need for vengeance rules his every move, and Gosling is every bit as effective (and holds his own opposite that iconic actor with ease) as the brash D.A. whose world is suddenly “fractured” by taking on this one last case before entering the private sector. Add in the fine supporting work done by Rosamund Pike, David Straitharn, Bob Gunton, Billy Burke (as the wife’s lover who also happens to be a police hostage negotiator), and the rest of the talented players across the board, and the result is that “Fracture” ends up as one of the most satisfying thrillers to come to the big screen in ages.


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