“Look closely enough and you’ll find everything has a weak spot where, sooner or later, it will break.”

So says Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant aeronautics engineer who has been jailed for the attempted murder of his philandering wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) to hotshot Assistant DA Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling). Unfortunately, one doesn’t have to look too far for a weak spot in the film’s script.

Willy is only days away from leaving his assistant DAs job for a cushy, high paying job as a prestigious law firm. Unable to resist leaving on a high note, he takes one last case, Crawford’s attempted murder of his wife, that on its surface appears to be fairly open and shut. However, as the trail commences, it soon becomes apparent that Crawford has expertly committed the crime in such a way that Willy finds increasingly hard to prove.

Fracture seems to exist in one of those alternate universe versions of Los Angeles where everybody has the ability to wryly quip about their circumstances and public servants like an assistant district attorney can afford to drive a BMW and a police detective can afford a bi-weekly extramarital fling at the expensive Miramar Hotel. But these improbabilities pale in comparison to some of the things the film’s storyline asks us to accept, starting with the fact that Crawford’s plan entirely hinges on his wife’s lover being the first police officer to enter his home after the shooting.

However, the most egregious thing that the film asks of its audience is to accept the absolute improbability of the method Crawford uses to dispose of the gun with which he shoots his wife. While the Los Angeles police department has had its share of bad publicity over the past several years, it is doubtful that they would be so incompetent as to not notice what Crawford needed them to overlook. It is at the point when Willy figures this out – a revelation that came about more through luck than through any application of the mental acuity that we are told Willy posses – that the movie’s plot falls apart, never to recover.

Though the script builds its stakes, the direction never really makes us feel the mounting tensions of the dilemma Willy finds himself in. The film just moves along at just the right pace to keep the audience from getting restless, plodding towards its improbable conclusion. Most the performances are serviceable, but Burke’s role as the police officer cuckolding Crawford is played flatly that one wonders why Jennifer took up with him in the first place. It is only when Hopkins is on screen does the movie have any real energy, even if he is just playing the umpteenth variation on his charming killer Hannibal Lector characterization.

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About Rich Drees 7153 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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