FRACTURE (Gregory Hoblit). 110 minutes. Opens Friday (April 20). For venues and times, see Movies, page 113. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Fracture starts out strong with a clever murder scheme, a lush, vaguely Vertigo-ish score and the promise of a Columbo-style criminal-versus-sleuth actors' duel.
But less than halfway through the film the clever scheme peters out to become a simple missing-gun question, the score devolves into a simple Bo Diddley beat and the actors' duel gets left behind by the plot.
Anthony Hopkins plays the brilliant stress analysis engineer who shoots his wife. Ryan Gosling is the smart, none-too-ethical junior prosecutor already on his way to a lucrative private-sector job. Hopkins milks his menace and phony charm and - wonder of wonders - does it without lapsing into Hannibal Lecter. Gosling keeps letting his bright-eyed braininess peep out from behind a Jimmy Stewartish diffidence.
This is big fun, and they have some good scenes together. But the promised psychological manipulation never gets very far, thanks to a storyline that gives Hopkins and Gosling key scenes at the beginning and then keeps them apart until the really boring climax.
If you like mysteries with clues, the missing-weapon one is fun and solvable. But if you like psychological thrust-and-parry, rent Sleuth or an old Columbo episode.