Before jumping to a higher paying job at a big firm, young prosecutor Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) takes on a seemingly open-and-shut case to convict engineer Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) of killing his wife. Soon, Beachum learns the case isn't as simple as it seems, and he also gets sucked into an unnecessary sexual relationship with his future boss (Rosamund Pike).
Big question: Can Gosling deliver in his first role following his Oscar-nominated performance in "Half Nelson"?
Catch it: Hopkins is an underrated comedian, and "Fracture" appreciates the silly bureaucracy that supports some of the legal system. The light touches sometimes weaken the dramatic intensity, but two well-matched actors give you reason to stick with the film even as the story does a little fracturing of its own.
Skip it: If you're a law student who wants to keep your classroom murderer-free. The movie seems to suggest killers would be better off with law degrees!
Bottom line: Gosling is so skilled at creating little mannerisms for his characters, and he makes us believe that Willy really needs to learn that a case won't win itself. In the end, "Fracture" becomes like a soggy sandwich at Subway: It falls apart, but the ingredients still taste good.
Bonus: Crawford makes an intelligent point when he notes, "Even a broken clock gets to be right twice a day." As for the other 1,438 minutes of the day, you're on your own!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed by Gregory Hoblit; screenplay by Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers; photographed by Kramer Morgenthau; edited by David Rosenbloom; music by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna; production design by Paul Eads; produced by Charles Weinstock. A New Line Cinema release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:52. MPAA rating: R (for language and some violent content).
Ted Crawford - Anthony Hopkins
Willy Beachum - Ryan Gosling
Nikki Gardner - Rosamund Pike
Joe Lobruto - David Strathairn
Jennifer Crawford - Embeth DavidtzCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times