Every once in a while, a movie comes out that passes me by at the time, and it sort of fades into obscurity. But thanks to friends who know how my mind works, I'm eventually lead to such titles. 'Fracture' is what I'm gonna round out the month of reader suggestions with, as a suggestion from a friend who clearly understands my interest in not just good characters, but a good villain.
The film starts out with the wealthy Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) seemingly committing the murder of his wife, Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) with a gunshot to the head. LAPD Detective Robert Nunally (Billy Burke) leads a squad to investigate the overheard gunfire, only to find Ted holding a gun, and confessing to Jennifer's murder. As police take Ted into custody, however, other first-responders report that Jennifer is alive, but in a coma and on life support.
The attempted murder case is assigned to the ambitious Deputy District Attorney, Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling). Willy has built quite a resume for himself with a 97% conviction rate, often achieved by handing unwinnable cases over to other DDAs. He's offered this case as his last in the DA's office, having recently been hired by the prestigious private firm, Wooton Sims. With Ted having made verbal and written confessions, and acting as his own lawyer, it's easy for Willy to see this as an open and shut case. But there's one important piece of the puzzle missing - the murder weapon.
Willy soon learns that Ted may very well have the upper hand in his case when Nunally gets brought into the picture. But not willing to throw in the towel, and considering himself challenged by Ted, how far is Willy willing to go to solve and close the case? Losing could not only threaten his future with Wooton Sims, but his career as a lawyer altogether. Just how personal is he willing to make it?
I'm not usually one for courtroom dramas,but there's certainly the odd exception, and this is definitely one of them. It's not quite as overly complicated as others, so that helps, but what really does it for me are the two lead characters. Ryan Gosling reminded me a bit of Brad Pitt in 'Seven' here. Although he's not quite as jokey, it's a similar personality, and he just wants to get his man. I enjoyed how determined he was to try to get justice for who, to him, was a complete stranger. It's another one I can say is a personal favorite of Goslings - somewhere in a Top 5 list.
The star of the show, though, was definitely Anthony Hopkins, who pretty much reprises that super intelligent and manipulative persona he had with Hannibal Lecter. The only difference is that he's got things dialed back here. He's far less intense, a little more casual, but all of that nonchalant persona is still there, and it just solidifies the fact that Hopkins can play the villain extremely well. Often it comes across as a little too similar, but it's not a role he's been typecast to do, either. It's not something that I roll my eyes at, saying "here we go again".
Other than performances (probably the best reason to check it out), I can give this one credit for being a decently gritty courtroom drama that kept my attention. Generally speaking, movies with a whole lot of talking aren't my cup of tea unless the characters are engaging, and the atmosphere feels threatening, and this movie nailed both pretty accurately. The only real downside was that some it it felt pretty implausible, but with that said, I don't know a whole lot about how law works, so some of the technicalities offered up here made me scratch my head a bit. But for what the film is, I found myself pleasantly surprised, and would definitely watch it through again to try to pick up on more.
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