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Ted Crawford (Hopkins) brutally murders his wife and calmly waits for the police to arrest him. With the weapon and a signed confession in hand, Deputy D.A., Willy Beachum (Gosling), believes a conviction is a slam dunk; that is until the case completely unravels. Now, with little evidence, Beachum goes head to head with the cunning Mr. Crawford in a desperate search for the truth and the answer to one burning question: How is this guy getting away with murder?
For more about Fracture and the Fracture Blu-ray release, see Fracture Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 5, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn, Rosamund Pike, Embeth Davidtz, Billy Burke
Director: Gregory Hoblit
» See full cast & crew
Fracture Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 5, 2009
Expectation plays such a significant role in a cinephile's reaction to a film that I often wonder if the endless onslaught of trailers we endure rob us of true cinematic joy. Don't get me wrong, I understand previews are an all-too-necessary evil -- after all, how could a film ever attract an audience if they had to enter the theater blind? Still, there's no more satisfying experience than watching a great flick I knew little to nothing about. On the flipside, expectation occasionally makes a movie sweeter and more succulent than it would have otherwise been. Take director Gregory Hoblit's Fracture. What I assumed would be a poor excuse to cram Anthony Hopkins into the aging frame of yet another Hannibal-esque villain turned out to be a smartly-written, well-paced game of cat-and-mouse with twists and turns aplenty; a simmering psychological thriller designed to pit Hopkins' sinister charm against the impulsive arrogance of a promising young upstart.
Hopkins delivers his best... erm, Anthony Hopkins impression as a crafty engineer named Ted Crawford who shoots his wife (Embeth Davidtz), peacefully surrenders to a shifty detective (Rob Nunally), and quickly admits to committing the crime during his subsequent interrogation. But despite his own admission and the overwhelming evidence at hand, Crawford later withdraws his confession and expresses his intention to defend himself at trial. His opposing counsel? A winsome deputy district attorney named William Beachum (Ryan Gosling) whose lax disposition and adherence to the law eventually costs him his prime suspect, his case, and his career. Determined to ensnare the acquitted Crawford and stop him from legally pulling the plug on his comatose wife, Beachum has to best the wily mastermind at his own game.
I know, I know... it isn't the most original concept to roll out of Hollywood in the last few years. And yes, I understand the plot challenges the boundaries of logic a bit to keep its protagonist and antagonist locked in a deadly clash of horns, but it's hard to hate a film whose lead actors are so utterly committed to their performances. Hopkins laps up every scene with the measured intensity of a jungle cat; his every syllable poison, his every glare a chilling reminder that his character is indeed the manipulative murderer Beachum thinks he is. As for Gosling, the emerging powerhouse continues to brandish his impressive talents, further establishing himself as one of the industry's safest bets. While not as memorable as his work in Lars and the Real Girl, The United States of Leland, or the exceptional Half Nelson, his turn as a cocky, self-assured lawyer is nevertheless an effective one. In fact, only Burke's pedestrian performance as a lovelorn detective threatens to spoil the proceedings: his part is certainly underwritten, but it seems a more convincing dash of emotional complexity would have allowed him to make more of his brief scenes.
I would never use the words "perfect" or "brilliant" to describe Fracture's sturdy screenplay ("formulaic" and "rote" would probably be more fitting), but I have to hand it to writers Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers for keeping viewers in the dark for the majority of the film, crafting a pair of deliciously-determined characters, and injecting palpable tension into what could have been a series of tiresome courtroom scenes. Likewise, it would be easy to accuse Hoblit of trying to cull the depths of his own Primal Fear (in which yet another scheming killer pulls the strings of the legal system to earn his undeserved freedom), but the director seems keenly aware of the potential similarities and does his best to distinguish Fracture from his former courtroom drama. Ultimately, Hopkins and Gosling elevate both script and film to craft a mesmerizing battle of wits. It isn't the greatest thriller of the decade, but it proves itself to be a competent, confident entry in an overcrowded, often underwhelming genre.
Fracture Blu-ray, Video Quality
Fracture features a blazingly bold 1080p/VC-1 transfer that deftly utilizes a mix of warm autumn tones, cold wintery hues, and absorbing expanses to deliver a wholly satisfying experience. Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau's searing palette is vibrant to a fault: skintones are often so healthy that they appear overheated, but it allows the filmmakers to shift tone and mood at a moment's notice. Blacks are deep and inky, giving the image an exceedingly three-dimensional appearance that, at times, looks fittingly rich and swarthy. More importantly, detail remains crisp and consistent throughout: fine textures are rendered with care and object definition ranges from sharp to remarkable. Delineation becomes a problem when the film's thick shadows go unchecked (background elements are generally crushed out of existence), but any such shortcoming seems to be the result of the filmmakers' intentions. As it stands, only the presence of some lingering edge enhancement and a few bursts of source noise distracted me from the otherwise stable presentation. Artifacting and banding are kept at bay, and any noise reduction utilized by the studio has been applied judiciously. All things considered, Fracture looks great and should easily please fans impervious to its daunting shadows and more oppressive aesthetic qualities.
Fracture Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Fracture's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track is equally noteworthy. Dialogue, the hallmark of any effective legal thriller, is crisp and intelligible throughout. Even Hopkins' hushed whispers and acute intonations are crystal clear and nicely prioritized in the soundscape. The rear speakers aren't exactly pushed to the max, but help envelop the listener in the film's bustling courtrooms and busy workspaces. Ambience is involving, acoustics are convincing, and pans are impeccable. Likewise, the track's LFE channel isn't going to rattle your shelves -- blame it on the subdued sound design -- but it does massage each low-end tone, providing earthy resonance and weighty support. To top it all off, directionality is precise and key effects (like the lyrical whirs and clops produced by Crawford's perpetual motion machines) perfectly mingle with the film's atmospheric soundfield. Fracture isn't going to earn a spot on any audiophile's shortlist of demo discs, but it does a fine job handling what it's given.
Fracture Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Like the previously-released 2007 DVD, the Blu-ray edition of Fracture only offers fans five uneven Deleted and Extended Scenes, two semi-decent Alternate Endings (originally attached to a pair of botched preview screenings), and a Theatrical Trailer.
Fracture Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
That smile says it all. Hopkins and Gosling sink their all into Fracture, granting it more cinematic clout than it would have earned without their intense performances. Thankfully, the Blu-ray edition of the film is worth serious consideration as well. The disc suffers from supplemental deficiency, but delivers an excellent video transfer and a similarly impressive TrueHD lossless audio track. Did I mention it blows away the DVD in terms of overall AV quality? Make no mistake, Fracture is a solid release that deserves a blip on your busy Blu-ray radar.
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Fracture Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Fracture Blu-ray Release Gets Specs - February 19, 2009
New Line Home Entertainment in conjunction with Warner Home Video has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Fracture', which is due to hit store shelves on June 16th. Coming on a BD-25, video will be presented in ...
• Fracture Announced for Blu-ray Release - February 17, 2009
New Line Home Entertainment in conjunction with Warner Home Video have announced that they will bring 'Fracture' to Blu-ray on June 16th. Technical specs have yet to be announced at this time, though you can expect a 1080p VC-1 video presentation accompanied by ...
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