Starring: Ryan Gosling, Anthony Hopkins, Rosamund Pike
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Running Time: 113 mins
Fracture is an American film about a young, ambitious lawyer who takes on a seemingly simple case prosecuting a man who confessed to shooting his wife when he was caught. However, the defendant’s crafty usage of the legal system means that his conviction is far from a foregone conclusion.
Fracture is a pretty good film. Intriguing, dark, well-acted and atmospheric, it has all the ingredients of a great legal thriller. However, there’s just one thing that’s missing: unpredictability. As enjoyable a watch as Fracture is, and despite two committed performances from Ryan Gosling and Anthony Hopkins, this isn’t a film that will exactly have you on the edge of your seat.
The best legal thrillers, from Anatomy Of A Murder to Primal Fear, A Few Good Men and more, lay out an intricate, complicated puzzle for you to solve along with the main characters, whether they be the prosecutors or the defendants. And then, when the two sides are sparring in the courtroom, your understanding of the case begins to hang on every word, flying backwards and forwards between a guilty and not guilty verdict as the tension rises.
Fracture has all of the detail and legal depth of one of those great thrillers, but you never feel that unpredictability and tension. Granted, its structure shows that it’s trying to do something different, telling a story that’s not simply about finding somebody guilty or not guilty, but rather to give an insight into how the legal system can be manipulated, and the consequences of someone who is able to do so.
However, with a malicious Anthony Hopkins reviving his best Hannibal Lecter impression as a crafty, calculating man in this film, you never feel like there’s a chance he’s going to lose. And so it proves for the vast majority of the film, with Hopkins always one step ahead of the ideologically pure Gosling, no matter how convoluted or ridiculous his method of escaping prosecution is.
There’s very little about the courtroom sequences which have you hanging on every word the pair say, simply because it’s always apparent that Hopkins has a way out. And even though the film tries to subvert things to end on a morally positive note, Fracture could have been all the more thought-provoking if it had allowed things to get even darker.
Because, while the film isn’t exactly thrilling or unpredictable, it does touch on fascinating, complex themes of the USA’s supposedly world-beating legal system. Principally focusing on the role of proof over admission in the courtroom, Fracture doesn’t hold back with a detailed and well-plotted screenplay, which both Hopkins and Gosling act out in gripping fashion.
It’s a captivating watch, and a film with a lot of strengths, making for a very solid legal thriller. However, as far as the genre goes, Fracture misses out on that extra unpredictability and tension, as it tells a story that feels like a foregone conclusion long before it actually comes to an end. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5 overall.