"Fracture" isnít high art, but it is pretty enjoyable. This substandard genre tale is elevated by fun performances and interesting production design.
Fracture (2007, Blu-ray)
Directors: Gregory Hoblit
Writers: Daniel Pyne (screenplay) and Glenn Gers (screenplay) Daniel Pyne (story)
Features: * Deleted Scenes * Alternate Ending * Trailer
Anthony Hopkins ... Ted Crawford
Ryan Gosling ... Willy Beachum
David Strathairn ... DA Joe Lobruto
Rosamund Pike ... Nikki Gardner
Embeth Davidtz ... Jennifer Crawford
Billy Burke ... Lt. Robert 'Rob' Nunally
Cliff Curtis ... Detective Flores
Fiona Shaw ... Judge Robinson
Bob Gunton ... Judge Gardner
Josh Stamberg ... Norman Foster
Xander Berkeley ... Judge Moran
A good, dumb genre picture can go a long way, particularly when itís driven by a fine cast of A and B-list character actors. And thatís exactly the sort of picture "Fracture" is. Itís not trying to be mind-blowing, thought provoking or shocking in any way -- itís just solid genre fare.
Ryan Gosling is Willie Beachum, an up-and-coming ambitious young lawyer. Heís recently accepted a position at a high powered firm and hopes to leave behind his life at the DA office. But his fast track to success is stopped short when he finds himself entangled in a bizarre attempted homicide case.
Anthony Hopkins plays Ted Crawford, the man on trial. He seemingly planned out his wifeís attempted murder, but with a few key pieces of evidence missing, Willie finds it hard to convict the man. It certainly doesnít help that Ted seems to be playing with the cracks in the system, gleefully enjoying Willieís fumbling.
Of course, the usual courtroom antics ensue, as well as a few decent twists and turns in the narrative -- some less predictable than others. The pictureís main twist, unfortunately, is a bit noticeable and it becomes annoying watching this hotshot lawyer miss one crucial piece of the puzzle thatís staring him right in the face. At least the film provides enough thrills to bypass the more obvious, and forced plot twists.
At its core, "Fracture" is a dumb movie though, no better or worse than any given law drama on TV today. Itís oddly plotted. Perhaps 10 or 15 minutes too long and thereís little fresh about the characters or the story. But itís the performances here that make this genre picture worth exploring.
Gosling continues to show A-list promise as Willie. He throws a clichť southern accent and overconfident swagger into his character, but his subtle gestures bring life to a very two-dimensional character. Hopkins isnít stretching much from his Hannibal Lector character, but itís clear he enjoys letting his inner-psychopath out to play every once and while. His character soaks up the screen every time he appears. Thereís rarely a scene where heís not a delight to watch.
The rest of the cast is equally great. Cliff Curtis plays a cop, again, but similar his other roles, heís likable and engaging. The various judges seen in the film are a hoot -- each played by known character actors. Rosamund Pike is fairly interesting; though her character is completely superfluous and written off by the finale.
Probably the most interesting, and weird, aspect of the movie is the lighting. The entire picture is lit with stark, vibrant colors that seem to emanate from nowhere. In certain scenes itís sort of distracting, particularly when it infects an apartment -- no one wants their apartment to be bleached in sparkling red or neon yellow. Other times, it adds a creepy atmosphere that gives the picture a pulpy comic undertone that smoothly cuts the cheesy dramatic tension of the narrative. Had the film not been lit in this way, it probably wouldnít have been nearly as entertaining.
"Fracture" isnít high art, but it is pretty enjoyable. This substandard genre tale is elevated by fun performances and interesting production design. If only the story were just a touch more believable.
Film Report Card:
Entertainment Value: A-
Film Value: B-
"Fracture" is presented in 2.40:1 widescreen using the VC-1 codec on a single-layered BD25 disc consuming 21.3 gigs of disc space. The transfer is quite stunning -- topping the previous DVD by leaps and bounds. No grain, dust or white specks appear at all. The image is sharp, clean and crisp with fine shadows and deep textures popping off the screen, perfectly accented by the picturesí intense color scheme. No digital artifacts or edge haloing were noted. Black levels are just a touch too dark at times, though. Beyond that, this is a near-reference transfer.
Audio choices are English 5.1 TrueHD Audio with English, German, Polish and Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish, English, German, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian subtitles. Clarity here is absolutely fantastic -- again topping the previous DVD. Surround usage is robust and aggressive while layered with subtle and organic design. Dialogue is perfectly mixed with the filmís somewhat abrasive surround effects and stock thriller score. Bass effects are extremely well done with thunderous moments appearing during a few key moments. Overall, a solid effort.
Extras and Packaging:
This single-disc BD release comes packed in a blue elite case featuring the filmís theatrical artwork. Extras are fairly limited here, and ported over from the DVD. They include a fairly mundane collection of five deleted/alternate scenes (11 minutes, HD) and two surprisingly meaty alternate endings (23 minutes, HD). These two endings donít feature just a few changes in the angle of the last shot -- both of these endings change certain themes and ideas. That said, I still prefer the theatrical ending over these two.
"Fracture" isnít a great movie, by any means, but itís a fun genre picture built around amusing character performances. The Blu-ray is a notable improvement over the DVD, but sadly, New Line doesnít take advantage of this Blu-ray double-dip, offering new, exclusive features. Still, fans should pick this one if theyíve got the cash.
Blu-ray Report Card:
HD Content: N/A
Recommendation: Worth a look.
On BD: June 16, 2009.
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----R. L. Shaffer