FRACTURE – Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna
Original Review by Clark Douglas
They don’t come along too often, but “Fracture” is the rare sort of film that has too much quality for it’s own good. You may be wondering what I mean. Well, let me put it this way. On one side, you’ve got decent little movies with decent little scripts aided by decent little performances that add up to a decent time at the movies. You get what you expect, and you are satisfied. Then there are movies that offer great performances, some fantastic dialogue, and a fascinating set-up… all backed up by a fairly mediocre story. You would think the latter would be the better option of the two; but in many cases, a lot of strong elements working towards a mediocre end is far more disappointing than simply seeing something that is mediocre all around.
“Fracture” was directed by the talented Gregory Hoblit, who has turned in a string of respectable enough thrillers like “Fallen”, “Primal Fear”, and “Frequency”. “Fracture” probably falls somewhere in this region of decent quality, but as I said before, contains some elements that are simply too strong for the film’s own good. The primary area of concern is the acting, which comes from a very strong cast that includes the likes of Ryan Gosling (fresh off an academy award nomination), Anthony Hopkins, and David Strathairn.
Gosling plays Willy Beachum, an incredibly cocky (but talented) young assistant DA. Beachum has just been offered an incredibly cushy job at a very high-powered law firm, and only has to wrap up a few loose ends with his old job before taking on the luxurious life of a superstar lawyer. One of those loose ends is handling a seemingly open-and-shut attempted murder case. The defendant in this case is Ted Crawford (Hopkins), a frighteningly genial fellow who has signed a written confession. After catching his wife (Embeth Davidtz) having an affair, Crawford shot her in the head and made no attempt to escape when the police came knocking on his door. Confident that there isn’t any research or work that needs to be done in a case as simple as this, Beachum shows in court completely unprepared. Bad move.
Before you can say “fava beans”, Crawford, who is serving as his own attorney, launches into an astonishing series of revelations that would seemingly prove his innocence in the matter. Pinned to the wall, Beachum must now find a way to prosecute Crawford successfully, and fast. The stakes are very high on this matter… if he loses, not only does his plush new job disappear, his position at the DA’s office disappears. This leads to a very entertaining game of legal cat-and-mouse between Hopkins and Gosling, who both seem to be relishing the opportunity to sink their teeth into an acting situation like this.
Hopkins plays his character as a slightly less creepy Hannibal Lecter, projecting volumes of intelligence with only the slightest verbal and physical gestures. It’s the sort of performance that would overwhelm many less experienced actors, but Gosling more than holds his own, demonstrating once again that he is one of the most exciting young actors of this generation. Gosling also seems like quite a smart guy, even if his ego tends to drown out common sense from time to time. It’s because these two performances are so good that the film is so disappointing.
Throughout the film, Beachum seems to repeatedly miss rather obvious things that have to be pointed out to him by others, usually his boss (Strathairn). It doesn’t make sense that a man with a 97% conviction rate would get to be so successful without being able to frequently pick up on the slightest clue. Even more disappointing is where the script ultimately leads the Hopkins character… Ted Crawford seems so intensely smart and in control throughout the entire movie, but ultimately makes some key mistakes that I simply refuse to believe a man of Crawford’s intellect would make. Indeed, I suspect Hopkins may feel the same way… as good an actor as he is, and as good as this performance is, he simply seems lost during the film’s final few moments.
Another disappointing element is the music from brothers Mychael and Jeff Danna. I’ve always enjoyed their collaborations, especially “Green Dragon” and their recent work on the much-maligned “Tideland”. Here, they seem to fall prey to the usual clichés of modern character-based thriller scores… moody strings and piano, wandering around mysteriously without really ever doing anything particularly interesting. Sure, it’s a bit more professionally written than Klaus Badelt’s “Premonition” or Antonio Pinto’s “Perfect Stranger”, but typically dull nonetheless. A few bursts of energy are injected by the use of modern percussion in a few sweeping shots of the city, and even some punchy brass jabs during one scene. Still, there’s an overall sense that both Dannas have done far better work elsewhere.
”Fracture” isn’t really a bad movie, just a very disappointing one. I enjoyed it while I was watching it, was hypnotized by the charismatic performances and witty dialogue, while director Hoblit built up a suspense-filled atmosphere. However, during the film’s final few moments and my walk from the theater to the parking lot, the entire thing simply disintegrated. Refuse to think about the movie after it’s over, and you may very well be convinced you got your money’s worth. I suppose now is as good a time as any to reference Revelation 10:10: “…it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.”
- The Rube (3:26)
- Mrs. Smith (3:39)
- You’re Home Early (3:22)
- Beachum (1:51)
- Objection (1:11)
- Call Me Later (3:24)
- I Didn’t Know Her Last Name (2:53)
- Bedside Vigil (2:03)
- This Is Where To Find Me (1:12)
- I Haven’t Decided Yet (1:29)
- Suicide (2:24)
- I Decide When It Gets Pulled (6:54)
- A Certain Kind Of Strength (3:15)
- I Got The Bullet (2:52)
- New Trial (4:00)
Running Time: 43 minutes 55 seconds
New Line Records (2007)
Music composed by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna. Recorded and mixed by Brad Haehnel. Album produced by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna.