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Review (3/10)
(By Erin Cullin)

It never ceases to amaze me that the decision-makers in Hollywood have yet to realize that throwing two Oscar-calibre actors onto a set together does not by necessary implication create a great film. A survey of some of the worst films of the last forty years provides compelling evidence - consider Ishtar (starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman), All the King's Men (starring Sean Penn and Jude Law), Insomnia (starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams) and The Reaping (starring Hilary Swank and Stephen Rea). If nothing else, each of these screen disasters teaches us that a film without a cohesive plot, a thoughtful director or strategic film editing is destined for the "straight to DVD" shelf.

While Fracture, the latest film by director Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear, Fallen), is no Ishtar, it is certainly not a film that is worthy of its two very talented lead actors, Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling.

Fracture tells the story of Ted Crawford (Hopkins), a brilliant aeronautics engineer whose picture-perfect life is shattered when he discovers that his beautiful young wife is having a torrid affair. Enraged by the revelation, Ted devises a plan to avenge his wife's infidelity by shooting her. The plan seems to be an unmitigated disaster, ending with Ted being arrested and jailed for attempted murder. Enter Willy Beachum (Gosling), a rising star who is on his way out of the district attorney's office and into a cushy corner office in one of the most prestigious law firms in L.A. What initially appears to be an open and shut case quickly becomes Willy's undoing, as his case begins to unravel and he finds himself embroiled in a cat and mouse game with a diabolical adversary.

Much like Hoblit's prior crime thrillers, Fracture attempts to stupefy its audience with clever plot twists. Unlike Primal Fear and Fallen, however, the plot twists in Fracture are predictable and anti-climactic. What begins as a promising film quickly loses momentum and ultimately limps to the closing credits. In dissecting the film in its aftermath, it is apparent that it has fallen victim to a poorly written screenplay.

While Hoblit loses ground for his poor choice of screenplay, he does deserve some credit for trying to be innovative. He makes interesting use of some panoramic camera angles that are often more characteristic of television than film. Considering Hoblit's directorial roots in television, his use of these techniques, while unique, was not completely surprising. The fact that my attention strayed to examining camera angles, however, should tell you everything you need to know about how interesting I found this film.

For their part, Hopkins and Gosling deliver decent, if uninspired, performances. Hopkins' Ted Crawford is a "lite" version of his infamous "Hannibal Lecter" character, while Gosling's character is arguably a derivative of Will Graham, the FBI agent from the same series. It is difficult to distinguish the characters in this film from the stereotypical characters in every other run of the mill "cat and mouse" thriller that has ever made its way to the big screen, because the characters are poorly developed. The audience is not given an opportunity to know them or to form an emotional response to them - instead, by the end of the film, the audience is completely ambivalent about their fate.

Fracture is by no means the worst film that I have ever seen, but it is certainly one of the most disappointing films in recent memory. Watching two very talented actors squander their time in a film like Fracture is the cinematic equivalent of serving caviar with a side order of french fries. Sure, it is possible, but it is also shamefully inappropriate.


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