I haven’t been watching very many movies in the past couple of weeks because I’ve been focused on trying to get caught up on a few TV shows (like Lost and Ugly Betty) before the fall season starts. Now that I’ve finally cleared my viewing schedule, I was able to start in on my DVD list again, beginning with the 2007 film Fracture starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. I had heard some good things about this movie, and I love Hopkins in almost anything, so I was pretty excited to see this.
Plot Summary (with possible spoilers): Fracture opens with a series of random scenes designed to set up the event that puts the rest of the action in motion. We see an aeronautical engineer named Ted Crawford (played by Hopkins) at work investigating causes of airplane crashes, and then we see him rush off to a hotel, ostensibly to spy on a man and a woman enjoying each other’s company by the pool. Ted then speeds home to await his wife Jennifer’s (Embeth Davidtz) arrival.
It turns out that his wife was the woman from the hotel pool. She’s having an affair, and Ted obviously knows all about it. Ted looks to be quite a bit older than Jennifer, so at first the viewer is lulled into thinking that he might just accept his wife’s transgressions and continue living out a sham marriage, but that’s not the case at all. Instead, Ted pulls out a gun, looks his wife in the eye, and shoots her in the face.
Ted doesn’t seem to care that his gardeners are right outside and can hear what’s going on in the house. He then continues to fire off rounds from his gun, carefully picking up the spent casings and replacing them with different ones.
The police arrive on the scene shortly thereafter, and a hostage negotiator is sent in to try to reason with Ted. It’s Robert Nunally (Billy Burke), the man who was sleeping with Ted’s wife. Nunally didn’t know Jennifer’s real name (they called each other “Mr. Smith” and “Mrs. Smith,” nor did he know where she lived, so he had no idea what he was walking into. Once he realizes what happened, he flips out, runs to the body to check out Jennifer (who’s still alive, but slips into a coma), and then proceeds to beat on Ted until other officers come in to restrain him.
The film then shifts gears and introduces us to the other main character, the DDA from the District Attorney’s office who will be prosecuting the case. His name is Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling), a young up-and-comer who already has a cushy job waiting for him at the biggest corporate law firm in the area. He takes on this case just because it seems like an open-and-shut affair. They didn’t have the weapon, but Ted confessed to Nunally, and that seemed to be the end of it.
But of course things don’t go as smoothly as Beachum had anticipated, particularly when news of Nunally’s affair with Jennifer comes out in court. That forces the judge to throw out Ted’s confession since Nunally was in the room at the time, and Beachum is back to square one.
The rest of the film then deals with the cat-and-mouse game between Ted and Beachum as Beachum tries to find some way to prove that Ted was indeed the one that pulled the trigger.
My Reaction: Good lord, I thought this was a terrible film! There were so many ridiculous plot points in Fracture that I’m not sure where all of the positive reviews are coming from. Let me see if I can cover the major absurdities here.
First of all, why did Beachum need a weapon in order to get a conviction? Um, hello?!!! People regularly get convicted of attempted murder/murder without the cops ever finding the weapon. Does the name Scott Peterson ring a friggin’ bell? What was the murder weapon in that case? No one knows because they never found one!! But where’s Peterson now? That’s right: Death Row at San Quentin.
You mean to tell me that Beachum, this hotshot attorney with a 97% conviction rate, wouldn’t have been able to get a guilty verdict based on the circumstantial evidence alone? The fact that Ted was in the house — alone — with his wife at the time she was shot, with no sign of anyone else ever being in there wasn’t enough to build a strong case against him? The fact that he had learned of his wife’s affair just hours before she was shot wasn’t enough to serve as motive? Yeah, riiiight.
Moving on, am I supposed to believe that Nunally would be so distraught over Ted’s acquittal that he would shoot himself because of it? This is a guy who DIDN’T EVEN KNOW JENNIFER’S REAL NAME!!! Yet, he would commit suicide because of everything that happened? Give me a break!
And what was up with Beachum getting it on with his new boss like 20 seconds after meeting her? Remember that scene at the opera where Beachum saunters in late and then leans over in the aisle to stare directly at Nikki while she does the same? This happened right in front of other lawyers from the firm… like any real people would actually behave that way! God, that was just a stupid, stupid subplot that had no place in the film at all.
Add to all this nonsense the fact that Ted “I’m smarter than you are” Crawford didn’t have the brains to make sure his wife was dead in the first place, and you can see why I hated this movie. I read some discussions of this plot point on a message board, and the people who liked the film said, “Well, it’s not like he was a professional killer.” What the heck…? I’m not a professional killer, but I’d know enough to put another bullet in her heart or head just to be sure. But then we wouldn’t have the setup for that equally ridiculous ending.
Overall, Fracture was a huge letdown for me. There were just too many implausibilities for me to accept this as the “intelligent thriller” that it was supposed to be. I give this film 1 star out of 5. Not even Anthony Hopkins can save it.