By Fred Topel | Images property of New Line Cinema.
I watch Boston Legal and I watched L.A. Law but I've certainly not seen every episode of Law and Order or even The Practice. So I can't say what legal premises have never been explored before, but there was enough in Fracture to make me curious.
Movie Review: Fracture
Wealthy structural engineer Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) shoots his cheating wife and gives himself up to the police. Assistant DA Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) gets the case just as he's about to leave for a high paying corporate gig. Thinking it's a slam dunk, he becomes obsessed with convicting Crawford after it becomes clear that the killer has set up an elaborate set of circumstances to manipulate the legal system.
I've seen lots of guys get off on technicalities in movies, but never an entire story about the intricate setup of those technicalities. It's really an awesome drama between these two highly capable people.
It's a battle of charisma between Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. In the beginning, Gosling is totally smug. He's traded with other lawyers to make sure he gets winning cases, but he took double and triple workloads to do it so that's badass. Hopkins is a charming innocent, like Borat in a courtroom, representing himself and basically asking along the way, "Oh, is that legal? Oh, what if I reveal this, does that change things?"
All the leads get to play full characters, not just basic roles like the A-hole learning a lesson in humility and the corporate type getting away with murder. Even the romantic interest, Willy's future boss (Rosamund Pike) is a matter of fact authority, but it's all business, not a power trip.
When the film reaches Thanksgiving weekend, it takes a fairly long holiday away from Hopkins. Willy has to scramble to rebuild his case and the film suffers for tilting towards one character. But as soon as Hopkins returns, it's back to full awesome.
The latter half of the film becomes less legal/intellectual and more visercal/psychological as the evidence has played out and Willy has to consider other measures. There are races against time and other common thriller conceits. But it still flows from the awesome drama.
It remains verbal and intellectual in the end, which is a real treat. They didn't have to stage a fight or a stunt, they figured out a dramatic way to end and it's satisfying. But it's the Hopkins/Gosling show all the way.