Saturday, 26 April 2008


Fracture is a newish (2007) legal thriller starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling and in many ways it is a mixture of familiar ingredients. There’s a bit of Columbo, a dash of Silence of the Lambs, a touch of The Firm and Jagged Edge, and even, for fans of traditional detection, a hint of John Dickson Carr and The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Hopkins plays Ted Crawford, an engineer who has devised a huge and elaborate executive toy which features intriguingly in the credits and which I hoped (to no avail, sadly) might play a very ingenious part in the unravelling of the plot as well as creating a mood of intricacy and menace. Ted is married to gorgeous Jennifer, but unfortunately has become aware that she is having an affair with a younger, better-looking man who just happens to be a cop. So Ted devises an ingenious revenge. He shoots Jennifer in the head – and then calls the police to an apparent hostage situation, only to make a calm and clear confession.

When the case comes to court, the legal fun begins, for Crawford has planned his escape from justice with considerable cunning. What, above all, has happened to the murder weapon? It seems to have disappeared from a ‘locked room’ crime scene.

Gosling is Willy Beachum, an ambitious young prosecutor obsessed with winning, who has just blagged his way into a job with a glitzy law firm. Even by Hollywood standards, though, Wooton Simms is a truly nasty outfit and even the fact that Willy’s new boss is Rosamund Pike (in real life, an English graduate from Wadham College, Oxford, but here playing a glamorous but flaky L.A. attorney) does not make it any better. Willy soon finds that he has to choose between his career aspirations and nailing Crawford with the crime. We know that there can be only one outcome, but the film handles this particular sub-plot efficiently, if not with an excess of subtlety. And the plotting as a whole is pretty well done.

I watched the movie whilst beginning a recovery from a sudden onslaught by a stomach bug at least as unpleasant as Ted Crawford. Fracture is the sort of film often dismissed by snooty (or lazy) critics with the two words: ‘enjoyable hokum’. Well, maybe it is, but it entertained me from start to finish and for two hours provided a welcome escape from the lure of hypochondria.


Bill Crider said...

I've moved this up near the top of my Netflix queue.

Martin Edwards said...

Bill, I think you'll like it. Hope so!

john morris said...

I quite agree with you. The script is better than average, and the solution of the "missing weapon" business is both fair and, I believe, original. Carr would have smiled!

Martin Edwards said...

I think he would, John. I hadn't realised when I decided to watch the film that it had that plot element to it, and it was a delightful surprise.