The cat-and-mouse scenario is skillfully reinterpreted in Fracture by the effective pairing of Anthony Hopkins as Ted Crawford—a structural engineer accused of the attempted murder of his wife—and Ryan Gosling as Willy Beachum—an assistant prosecuting attorney who mistakenly assumes he has a open-and-shut case only to discover his ambitions jeopardized in a keen battle of wits.
Anthony Hopkins has honed his performances of calculated criminals to the point where he could probably do these roles in his sleep, right down to the elegant hand gestures that connote his brilliant precision. Eschewing fava beans and chianti this go-round in favor of revenge served cold and ruthlessly beautiful, Hopkins retains charisma in his sinister cerebrics even if—as Justin Chang intimated in his Variety review—there's a sense of being served exquisite leftovers. Hopkins has become the Giorgio Armani of amoral criminality; impeccable, crisp, poised, smart.
Ryan Gosling, on the other hand, with his rumpled dress shirts and loosened ties is nearly luminous with comic innuendo. His hotshot sexiness and seemingly insouciant and disheveled intelligence begin to burn quite darkly by film's end and I was quite pleased to see him follow up his celebrated performance in Half Nelson with a performance at least half as good, though again his moral dilemmas noticeably harken back to his previous performance. This actor can do more with a glint of humor in his eyes—and its removal—than most young actors working today, save perhaps Robert Downey, Jr.
Gregory Hoblit, who perfected his chops directing episodes of TV's NYPD Blue and L.A. Law, deftly paces a suspenseful script by Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers. This taut crime drama with its courtroom sparring is fundamentally entertaining even if familiar, no matter how hard you might look for hairline fractures, as many probably will.