Murder Management

Fracture. Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling star in a film written by Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers and directed by Gregory Hoblit.

Funny how with certain genres, especially the world of comedies and thrillers, you can sense when something is right or wrong, but analyzing what makes them tick-or not-can be a slippery process. One either laughs, or tenses up, or not. Our well-trained movie-going instincts are our guide. Last week’s thriller model, Perfect Strangers, looked good and acted badly. This week’s citywide opener, Fracture, shows great promise but has no idea how to find the dopest route between ripe setup and twister finale. If it’s possible to check in early, duck out for a light meal in the lobby, and return for the last 10 minutes, you may miss the yawning spaces between the good stuff.

At its best, the film is a tense and darkly funny tte- -tte between a wily, murderous aeronautics executive and members of the legal profession. Anthony Hopkins is the cool criminal, as we know from the trailers (which contain most of the worthy lines in the film), and his Hannibal-esque cool is something to admire. Young, fresh-faced, and drawling Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) is the DA whose move into a cushy private-sector job is being delayed and possibly derailed by this complex attempted murder case, which turns out to be anything but open-and-shut.

We anticipate a juicy sparring session between these fine actors. Yet things go wrong in Fracture, on many levels. A film’s ability to maintain its focus is a critical factor in what makers thrillers thrilling, especially in moments of confusion and chaos, and Fracture loses focus in its narrative, sight, and sound. The diffuse cinematography and a soupy, sentimental musical score-which runs counter to what would seem the underlying, or hoped-for, essence of this piece-is just a distraction from an otherwise interesting game of legal cat-and-mouse.

For too much of the screen time, Fracture appears like a bland big-screen variation on the TV Law and Order genre (which director Gregory Hoblit has done much of his work in). Perhaps the filmmakers needed to spend a bit more time thinking big and studying their Hitchcock.

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