Ryan Gosling excels in crime-thriller setting.

When aeronautical engineer Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) puts a bullet in the brain of his unfaithful wife and then confesses to the crime, it falls to an ambitious deputy DA (Ryan Gosling) with one foot already planted in a tony corporate law firm to close the seemingly open-and-shut case. Only, nothing is quite as simple as it appears in Gregory Hoblit's enjoyably knotty thriller, which has the good sense to start off where most of its kind end up—with the answer to that tedious riddle: Whodunit? Fracture may not be a great movie, but it hums with the insidious smarts and theatrical flair that made Hoblit's debut, Primal Fear, a classic of its kind. Like that picture, this one takes a legal procedural that reeks of week-old Law & Order and pulls it off with unexpected zeal by playing up the bass line instead of the melody and by offering us the spectacle of two gifted actors working at the top of their game. Hopkins plays Crawford as a madman fully in possession of his faculties and all the more chilling for it, while Gosling, in his first post–Half Nelson appearance, continues to be one of the more remarkable happenings at the movies today.

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