“Fracture” Endumbened Me Further

August 27th, 2007  |  Published in etc

Having read his review of “Fracture,” it seems clear to me that James Berardinelli has gone mad:

Anthony Hopkins has played Hannibal Lecter to perfection and Crawford isn’t in the Cannibal’s league. Nevertheless, the actor pulls a little of that psychotic genius out of his bags of tricks and makes this character a formidable presence. There’s no doubt that Hopkins is one of the main reasons the film works. With a lesser performer, Fracture might be wallowing in B-movie territory.

Hopkins is one of the main reasons the movie will go down as one of the most abysmally stupid movies made in the last ten years. If it didn’t “wallow” in B-movie territory already, that’s because wallowing requires recognition on the part of the wallower … “Fracture” doesn’t even have that going for it. Confronted with a broken script and a tired premise the production team decided to go for broke and play on their debauched audience’s identification of Anthony Hopkins with Hannibal Lecter. Hopkins slurped no fava beans with a nice kee-AN-tee, but that’s less a mark of his mastery of this role and more a sign that the production team figured it could bank on prospective viewers getting the premise through their thick skulls with a little nudge from central gimmick casting. See also: “Still Trying to Get Pacino


Then I read this:

“Director Gregory Hoblit is probably best known for directing Primal Fear, as overwrought a crime drama as you’re likely to find.”

I noted the symmetry between the two movies before I even looked up the director. It’s not fair to say they’re the same movie, exactly … they’re just two cookies made with the same cutter, covered with different bits of sprinkles and icing, both seeking, apparently, to destroy a bright young actor’s career. Hopefully Gosling will shake “Fracture” off as well as Edward Norton did “Primal Fear.”

Awful. Awful.

And we watched the deleted and alternate scenes, too, which provided a sense that the producers weren’t really content to create an unrealistic love interest … they also needed to see her demeaned with some good slo-mo rear-door action set to opera. Which explained a lot to me, because at some point I started feeling twitchy and set the DVD clock to show the remaining time, then I killed some time doing a little math and realized the movie was going to come in a little shy of two hours despite a glaring gap in the development of the romantic subplot … a glaring gap that would have been filled by one of the worst sex scenes ever, complete with jumpcuts of passionate hair-tossing … a sex scene that would have landed the movie right about the two hour mark directors straining against contractual limits hit down to the minute instead of this movie’s curious little 1:55.

They actually reshot the scene, too, hopefully because one of the studio “suits” fanboys are always deriding stepped in and said “this is appalling … and cheesy … and sort of foul … and we’re gonna cost ourselves the chick demographic with this gratuitous horse-fucking.” But the reshot scene kept the jump-cut hair-tossing and opera, which must have prompted the director to throw a fit and declare that without the demeaning doggy-style action his scene was ruined and so simply not going in the movie. It should have stayed in. It might have jolted the normally sensible Berardinelli and a number of other shockingly credulous reviewers to lower the collective axe on the proceedings instead of setting pen to paper to out themselves as a bunch of marks.

You also get two alternate endings that indicate nobody even knew where the hell the movie was going until they’d filmed one ending that delicately altered a raving implausibility and another that … oh … forget it. What a mess.

Oh … something positive? O.k. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon did say something good. But first Berardinelli:

“Ryan Gosling, fresh off limitless praise for Half Nelson, does an effective job delineating Willy’s character arc, but he doesn’t fare well in the one-on-one face-offs against Hopkins. Hopkins arrests the camera’s attention in a way Gosling doesn’t.”

O.k. He’s gone mad. I already said that.

Stephanie Zacharek:

“Hopkins’ performance is dressed up with the usual 1,500-count dust ruffle of trilling consonants and fluted vowels, which sometimes are used to build a believable character, other times only to remind us what a serious actor he is. The single great pleasure of ‘Fracture’ is watching Ryan Gosling run rings around his costar without breaking a sweat.

One of ’em has to be wrong. The latter is the more correct of the two, though I’d say the single great pleasure of “Fracture” was watching the time remaining finally reach “0.”

Sam, if you’re reading: I understand your whole “Silence of the Lambs” thing now.

Berardinelli again:

“The ending is imperfect and anti-climactic, but considering how well most of the story unfolds, perhaps it’s better than attempting the sensationalistic approach of the nonsensical.”

It seems to me that mysteries like this live for their reveals … the endings. If you screw that up, you can’t say you made a good movie any more than you can build a car with no wheels and say it’s a NASCAR contender. This one had three endings, and even after that many tries they didn’t get it right. In a genre that lives for its endings.

Broken. Broken broken broken.

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