Fracture comes close. It’s right on the edge of being a classic courtroom drama/thriller, and then the ending collapses right on top of the tension the film has created. Ryan Gosling is superb alongside the equally gripping Anthony Hopkins, but Fracture’s story isn’t tight enough to keep it together.
The set-up is wonderful. The audience sees Anthony Hopkins' character murder his wife, point blank, for having an affair. He confesses, in both verbally and written forms, yet the cocky young lawyer who believes this case will be over in a matter of minutes is stunned when it’s not that simple. Hopkins' performance is similar to the deranged psychopath he played in Silence of the Lambs, with an arrogant smile and innocent eyes.
Fracture takes some time to pick up steam, though it does benefit from added character development. Direction and lighting are superb throughout, increasing the tension during those face to face meetings between killer and accuser.
Fracture needed more of that however. A romantic sub-plot takes up extended screen time and feels unnecessary. It doesn’t lead anywhere, and the time could have been spent with Hopkins and Gosling dueling it out. In fact, Hopkins doesn’t receive much screen time at all, at least not as much as the audience would like given his credentials.
All of this leads to the ending, which doesn’t have the impact it should have. The way the twist ending reveals itself doesn’t present the information naturally, and plot holes immediately become apparent. Hopkins' character would had to have assumed a number of things for his devious plan to work, and even then it wasn’t particularly a rock solid course of action.
There’s still enough solid content to recommend Fracture. The performances carry the film even when the writing doesn’t, and it’s still easy to find the quest for answers gripping material. It’s a shame it doesn’t hold together.
This is a DVD transfer all over the place, riddled with aliasing and compression issues one moment, only to be clean of defects in the next scene. There’s a fuzzy tone to the film overall, causing it to look too soft. Black levels fail to have the depth they need, and end up in the gray scale.
Filled with small, atmospheric touches, this 5.1 audio presentation is decent. During a crowded opening scene, police chatter can be heard in the rear channels, and in busy office spaces, phones ring into all speakers. These touches are commendable for the material, which was never suited for a home theater experience being dialogue driven.
Extras are slim, though needed. Seven deleted scenes, coming in a little over a half hour, are worth watching. The key are the two alternate endings which present the same plot twist (different from the film), but in different styles. It’s no more plausible, but makes the mistakes by Hopkins' character more significant. A few trailers end the tiny extras portion of the disc.
There’s a small nod to the James Bond films here if you’re listening for it and know the series. A judge makes a passing reference to 007 when referring to Gosling. His love interest here is played by Rosamund Pike, who starred in Die Another Day.