By Shawn McKenzie 05/13/2007
Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) is a wealthy and well-respected structural aviation engineer. Unfortunately, his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) is having an affair with hostage negotiator Rob Nunally (Billy Burke.) After spying on her and Rob at the hotel where they regularly have their trysts, Ted waits until she gets home and then he shoots her in the head. She doesn’t die (she is brain-dead though), but he fires a couple more shots into the air in order to alert the police. The hostage negotiator just happens to be Rob, and the cop realizes right then and there that Jennifer is his lover (they had previously called each other Mr. and Mrs. Smith.) Ted confesses, and he turns over his weapon. Meanwhile, cocky assistant district attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) practically has one foot out of the door of city hall. Since he has a 97% conviction rate, he has landed himself a job with the prestigious Wooten-Sims private law firm, run by Burt Wooten (David Purdham.) Even before he starts his job, he starts a romantic rendezvous with his future immediate supervisor, Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike.) Willy’s current boss, district attorney Joe Lobruto (David Strathairn) wants him to take on one last case (that being the Crawford case), and after Willy reads that Ted has already given an oral and written confession and will represent himself in court, he figures that it will be an open-and-shut case. Ted ends up becoming a crafty opponent though. He pleads not guilty on the grounds that Jennifer and Rob were lovers, so both confessions are thrown out. To make matters worse, C.S.I. discovers that the turned-in weapon has never been fired before, so they don’t have the gun that did the actual shooting. Nikki wants Willy to drop the case, but his ego gets in the way, so he doggedly tries to take Ted down…even if it means the end of his career.
Anthony Hopkins has been in the acting business for almost forty years. His first role was as Richard the Lionheart in 1968’s The Lion in Winter, but it wasn’t until his role as the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs that he came to the forefront of most moviegoers’ minds. Even though Hopkins reprised the role for 2000’s Hannibal and 2002’s Red Dragon, it is easy to assume that Fracture is just Lecter with a different character name. You would be a little bit right, but mostly wrong.
There are several differences between Crawford and Lecter. Both men have killed, but…unless we don’t know about this happening previously…Crawford has only killed once. He did it as revenge towards a cheating spouse. Lecter has killed many people and eaten them afterwards. As we learned in this year’s Hannibal Rising, Lecter originally killed out of revenge, but as time went on, he seemed to kill whenever he felt like it. Both men are highly intelligent with the ability to outsmart people attempting to prosecute them, but I wouldn’t consider Crawford a “serial killer” (a serial killer is someone who kills three or more people in three or more separate events over a period of time.) Can’t Hopkins play a character who kills someone without people thinking that he is playing Lecter again?
His acting in the movie is first rate though, and he looks like he had fun playing the role. He even manages to make Gosling look good (he impressed me with his breakout role in the 2002 Showtime TV movie “The Believer,” but has failed to wow me in the years since.) The movie is just Hopkins and Gosling, because the supporting characters don’t stand out.
Director Gregory Hoblit helmed Fracture, and it is somewhat of a return to the twisty drama that started his theatrical directing career. After directing several episodes of shows like “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” and “NYPD Blue,” he directed the excellent 1996 law-and-order drama Primal Fear, which was the acting debut of Edward Norton (it should be pointed out that Norton’s Oscar-nominated performance in that movie made his co-star Richard Gere look good. If you are a frequent visitor to Entertain Your Brain, you know how much I hate the American Gigalo’s acting.) In the years in-between, Hoblit has made a few movies that I personally liked (1998’s Fallen and 2000’s Frequency were cool, 2002’s Hart’s War was just okay), but other critics weren’t as receptive to them as I was. With the interesting story (penned by Glenn Gers and Daniel Pyne, based on a story written by Pyne), an end that satisfied me, and some great acting, the movie is worth checking out. Here’s hoping that this movie will be a new start for both Hopkins and Hoblit in the minds of critics and moviegoers alike.
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