Last weekend we saw a movie I have already almost completely forgotten about. Fracture stars Anthony Hopkins as a super-intelligent, super-successful mechanical engineer, who discovers his wife is having an affair with a hostage negotiator, and shoots her in the head. Ryan Gosling (gosling... isn't that cute!) plays the up-and-coming, cocky young prosecutor who gets the case. He's almost out the public service door on his way to making the big bucks for a private firm, but he takes on this One Last Thing, because it looks open-and-shut.
Surprise: Complications ensue. The defendant refuses counsel and acts as his own attorney. He appears to have planned things in advance. Our prosecutor is in deep. Will he nail this one, or wreck himself trying? How much of the trial has the husband orchestrated? Will he get away with it?
This courtroom thriller is not heavy on character development, not meticulously concerned with plausibility. Hopkins could do this role in his sleep... even gives a nod to Hannibal Lecter with a couple of otherwise unnecessary flares of his nostrils. Gosling is OK. He seems to have done mostly TV stuff before; at least I'd never seen him in anything before this. There was something a bit jeuvenile about him for the role, but it isn't a deal breaker. Rosamond Pike (remember Miranda Frost in Die Another Day?) plays Gosling's supervisor at the new firm, and, oddly soon, his girlfriend, too. Whatever.
In its favor: Fracture isn't too long, and it's paced well enough so that you can't get hung up on the plot holes until after the credits have rolled. It is entertaining while you're watching it, and nothing about it is outstandingly bad (ouch, faint praise!). It's likely to be the legal thriller that nobody's seen or heard of, if you're standing around Blockbuster with a couple other people saying "what do you want to watch?" "I dunno, what do you want to watch?" A decent compromise choice.
Against: It has no staying power whatsoever. While you might not regret the just-under two hours spent watching this movie, you are likely to forget all about it within hours after ejecting it from the machine. Which, if you're prone to becoming obsessed with "how come he didn't..." or "that wouldn't have worked because..." is probably a good thing.