Anthony Hopkins stars as Ted Crawford, a wealthy and brilliant man who investigates plane crashes and spends his spare time creating beautiful and intricate marble runs and perpetual motion machines. In the early scenes of the movie, he witnesses his wife and her lover together at a hotel, goes home to wait for her, and coldly shoots her in the head. He is calm and meticulous as he waits for the police, gun in hand. Lieutenant Ron Nunally, played by Billy Burke, shows up with a SWAT team and falls to the floor in shock when he sees the bleeding woman, who is - you guessed it - his lover. Over in the Los Angeles D.A.'s office, Willy Beachum, played by Ryan Gosling, is a quiet and unassuming young man from Oklahoma who has a 97% conviction rate. Although he is being hired by a ritzy corporate firm, he is assigned this one last case, Crawford's, because the police say it is a slam-dunk with the weapon and a signed confession. Willy is schmoozed and distracted by his new firm and especially his new beautiful boss, Nicki, played by Rosamund Pike. He is completely stunned to go to court, expecting a quick guilty plea from the old white-haired man, to find a sly, clever defendant who insists on representing himself, pleads not guilty, and requests that the case go directly to trial without the preliminaries. Soon enough, every single piece of police evidence falls apart, bit by bit, and Willy finds himself struggling to figure out how to convict this man who he knows is guilty.
Anthony Hopkins is at his most Hopkins-esque in this tense thriller, playing with his opponent as only Hopkins can, like a suited, gentlemanly Hannibal Lector. As Crawford, he is intelligent, arrogant, and certain that no one can touch him, further frustrating Willy. The tone is dark, as befits a thriller, but with a subtle sly humor, thanks to Crawford's refusal to take the proceedings seriously. We joked before the movie started that Gosling usually plays a brooding, mostly silent character in his films, and there is some of that here, but at the beginning, you also see Willy as a smiling, happy, upwardly mobile guy with everything looking perfect for his future. Of course, Crawford pulls that easy confidence from him, little by little. As the audience, you watch Crawford shoot his wife in the opening scenes, so you know he did it, but the real mystery here is how can he get away with it? It's a captivating question that kept us rapt and guessing right up until the very last scene.
Fracture is currently playing on Netflix and it is available for rent streaming on Amazon, starting at $3.99.
We love thrillers and mystery/suspense movies, but it seems to us like there aren't as many of them (and certainly not as many good ones) today as there were 10 or 20 years ago.
What movies do you recommend in the thriller/suspense/mystery genres? We also enjoyed A Simple Favor (dark, suspenseful, and funny) and Taking Lives (though it is from 2004 - see what I mean?) recently.
Check out this trailer - you'll be hooked!