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Fracture: Broken In Too Many Places

In Fracture, Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) is a cocky but likeable prosecutor on the rise. He’s about to go from being an assistant D.A. to joining a goliath corporate law firm — all chrome, glass and prestige. To top things off, his new beautiful boss Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike) has demonstrated an interest in taking him under her wing, in more ways than one. What could go wrong?

On the eve of his move, he agrees to take on one more case for the D.A.’s office. Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins), who we see spying on his cheating wife and then shooting her in the head, has signed a confession admitting to his crime. It should be an open and shut case, but the hotshot prosecutor with a 97 percent conviction rate soon finds himself mired in a trap set by the sociopathic Crawford.

A courtroom revelation renders Crawford’s confession inadmissible, and Beachum soon discovers that they cannot find the gun used in the crime. “If you look closely enough,” Crawford says, taunting Beachum, “you can find that everything has a weak spot where it can break, sooner or later.” Unfortunately, Fracture suffers from too many weak spots, so

In spite of top-notch stars, Fracture abounds in flaws: The film drags, lacks an original story, and derives its main characters all too obviously from The Silence of the Lambs. In addition, moments that are supposed to be suspenseful — like when Beachum races to the hospital with a court-order to keep Crawford from pulling the plug on his comatose wife — are so badly paced that you forget what’s even going on.

The romance between Beachum and his new, seductive boss seems to come out of nowhere, and it doesn’t make sense that someone in as high a position as Nikki would jeopardize her job just to sleep with a new employee, however handsome. The film also stumbles during moments intended as comic relief, since the movie hasn’t done its job in setting the proper tone these moments were meant to disrupt.

But the biggest disappointment of Fracture involves what could have been a promising rapport between Gosling and Hopkins. Gosling is one of the few actors who can smirk and act cocky and still have you rooting for him; he plays it off as youthful exuberance. His elastic face is as expressive as a silent film star’s, and he has a magnetism that almost makes his boss’s seduction make sense.

Gosling deserves a better sparring partner than Hopkins, who seems to have simply walked from The Silence of the Lambs set without leaving character. Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter shtick is getting old. His arsenal of sociopathic tics — the nostril flaring, the reptilian slow-lidded closing of the eyes — isn’t bordering on self-parody; it fully inhabits it.

Although Fracture had promise, you just feel like you’re wandering around in familiar territory, none of it surprising or compelling.

Photos copyright 2007 New Line Cinema

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