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Fracture (2007)

Fracture. Feature film. (2007, 113 mins) IMDB

...Two strong performances by lead actors...

A

nthony Hopkins is Ted Crawford--a wealthy man living in LA. He has the hyper-sports car, the expansive house, the trophy wife, except she's having an affair with someone else. Seems he doesn't like that.

At the start of the movie, we see these things then he raises a pistol and shots his wife. The shot to the head should have killed her, but it didn't. Critical to what follows, she's alive, but brain dead.

Calmly, after the police arrives, he explains he shot her. I confess. In court, he wants to represent himself. No lawyers.

Enter Ryan Gosling as the prosecuting attorney Willy Beachum. He's had a stellar record in the DA office, but he's off to the riches of a private law firm. Wooten Sim. He only agrees to do this case because it won't take long. Since it's a movie, there's more in store for him.

There's the confession. The murder weapon. Witnesses. Crawford should be convicted and sentenced in no time, but the case unravels when the detective who took the confession, who was at the scene of the crime, is shown to be the victim's lover. It taints the confession and other evidence.

Then the gun found at the crime scene was shown to have never been fired. (That's never explained clearly). The once clear-cut case against Crawford has dissipated into a game. We realize he was smarter about the entire affair than we realized.

As the case unravels, Beachum's life goes in the tank. The rosy new job is looking iffy, then gone. So is his position with the DA's office. Nothing is going right for him. No matter where he looks for evidence he can't find it. The wife is brain dead and can't testify. The murder weapon can't be found. Video cameras don't show enough. He's beating his head against the wall to find the answers.

Act III starts when, in the court room, Crawford, acting as his own counsel, moves for a motion to have the charges dismissed for lack of evidence. There is no evidence except some fake evidence the lover/detective has concocted and our hero has to decide. Use it or drop the case. He stays on the right path. The case is dropped and Crawford goes free.

To that point, I wasn't entirely sure where the story was going. Two clever guys matching wits. Who would prevail? Would justice prevail? Would greed take over? It turns out justice prevails, maybe.

Clever becomes cocky. Crawford has his wife taken off life support. He thinks double jeopardy will protect him, but that only applies to the same crime, the same charge. His first trial was about second-degree murder, the subsequent one is a different charge. Oops. Not so smart. I didn't believe it, but I'm sure it could happen.

I expected a different ending given the connection between the detective and the gun. I was even hoping for Crawford to outsmart everyone. Nope. I thought the detective/lover would have been charged etc. even though we saw what happened in the early scenes.

I was definitely caught up in this movie. Gosling's performance was incredible. You wouldn't know he was Canadian. Hopkins was strong and believable.

David Strathairn plays a small role as the DA and odd that I watch two movies on the same night and he's in both of them. This film and THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES.

The ending cheats in the usual way. The cocky, secure bad guy spills his guts to the authorities at end thus dooming himself. Given what got us to this point, a better ending was required.

The films ends with the notion Crawford will be convicted this time, but there's an argument it won't happen. What's the evidence against him? His second confession. The first wasn't allowed as evidence, maybe the second won't either. And the murder weapon? It seems just as tainted as the other evidence. Given what happened in the first trial, it wouldn't surprise me if he was acquitted or the charges are dropped.

Posted 2009/03/02 at 20h58ET in Movie Commentary.

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