Much like a marathon runner who starts strong and limps to a weak finish, “Fracture” begins with great promise only to lose its focus and ultimately disappoint.
The setup finds Jennifer Crawford (Embeth Davidtz) spending time with her maintenance man, Rob Nunally (Billy Burke). Unbeknown to her, her husband Ted (Anthony Hopkins) witnesses her unspoken act. He makes a phone call and pulls out a gun and shoots Jennifer in the head. After retrieving the bullet shells, cleaning up and composing himself, Ted waits for the police.
How surprised are we when no one other than Detective Nunally shows up at the house, only to discover that his lover has been shot by her husband! The enraged detective slams Ted to the ground, punching him several times before he is led away. Nunally insists on being in the room when Ted gives his statement.
Meanwhile, hotshot prosecutor Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) has just been offered a job at a high-profile law firm. Cocky, arrogant and positively sure of his abilities, Beachum is a younger version of the Keanu Reeves super attorney from “The Devil’s Advocate.” After giving his two-week notice, Beachum draws a case that no attorney wants: prosecuting the deceptive Ted. With a 97 percent winning rate, Beachum is the perfect lawyer for an imperfect case.
His first impression with Ted is bemusement. Clearly, in his mind, he’s smarter than the elder Ted and just wants to win the case, punch his ticket and move on to more lucrative cases in private practice. But something happens, and he soon finds that his “easy” case will test his will and his livelihood.
Nobody rocks a prison jumpsuit like Hopkins. It seems that he relishes his return to such a celebrated role. His wordplay with Gosling recalls scenes with Jodie Foster in “Silence of the Lamb.” Soon Gosling learns, as Foster did, that it is a mistake to underestimate the crafty Hopkins.
One huge plot hole finds Beachum encountering the sexy and mysterious Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike), a colleague from his prospective law office. They make eyes at each other, spend quality time together and – poof! – she’s gone. Initially, sizzling with anticipation and intrigue, the film loses its way in the closing before limping to an unsatisfying conclusion.
Not even a clever twist at the end could save this film. Clocking in at 113 minutes, it appeared that the filmmakers only wrote enough dialogue for 90. Instead of a classic thriller, they ended up with a fractured fairytale that has to settle for being mediocre instead of good.