The final 20 minutes of the film pull out all the stops, twisting and turning the plot into a pretzel that will choke some viewers but prove a treat for others. Crawford’s orchestration of events take on superhuman, practically omniscient qualities toward the end of the movie – but many viewers will buy into it because Hopkins’ cold, merciless eyes cast a convincing spell. Who wants a heavy dose of reality when the storyline’s strained revelations are this much fun?

Coming off his Oscar-nominated breakout role in Half Nelson, Gosling tries to keep up with Hopkins, but we don’t care as much about his character as we do about how Crawford might outfox the hotshot prosecutor. We want to see justice done – and to the movie’s credit, this desire is not left unaddressed – but we don’t have much invested in Beachum's professional or romantic ambitions. Up-and-coming lawyers just aren’t sympathetic to most viewers, no matter what sort of class rhetoric they spew (Beachum contrasts his humble Southern roots to “people with money”) or how attractive their lovers are.

Still, Beachum has his own moral code – there are some lines he refuses to cross – and that makes him more admirable than we might expect. We might enjoy Crawford’s ability to stay a step ahead of Beachum, but we also want to see Crawford pay for his crime.

Director Gregory Hoblit made a name for himself with another legal thriller, Primal Fear, which also showed how the justice system can be undermined by human depravity. The surprising turns in “Fracture” can’t top the knockout conclusion of  Primal Fear, but Fracture provides a sense of closure that was lacking in Hoblit’s earlier film. It sends us out in the knowledge that our legal system – despite questionable motives by those entrusted with its care, and savvy manipulation by those who want to escape penalty for their crimes – isn’t always a villain’s best friend.

AUDIENCE: Older teens and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  Lord’s name taken in vain; profanity; crude sexual references.
  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Some drinking; a verbal reference to getting “totally trashed.”
  • Sex/Nudity:  Lovers kiss and caress in close-up; a subordinate sleeps with his new boss.
  • Violence:  A woman is shot in the head, and blood pools around her; men physically assault other men; a battle over a woman on life-support; a suicide.
  • Ethics:  A lawyer explains how he got a colleague to “throw” a case; a man pressures a lawyer to use fake evidence.