Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins may have said goodbye to the lucrative franchise launched with "The Silence of the Lambs." However, he hasn't stopped playing powerfully potent psychopath parts initiated by "Lambs" indelible Hannibal the Cannibal Lecter.
His latest variation on this screen villain is mechanical engineer and wife-killer Ted Crawford in "Fracture." Crawford is pretty close to Hannibal, minus his preferred cuisine. Although, the wife-killer's eating habits are never, in fact, brought up.
Where the two characters are identical is in the area of intellect and the ability to outwit any adversary. In Crawford's case, his foil is young hotshot prosecutor Willy Beachum (young hotshot actor Ryan Gosling), along with the rest of the Los Angeles Justice System. District Attorney's Office and Police Department.
Directed with a sure hand by Gregory Hoblit ("Primal Fear") from a Daniel Pyne/Glenn Gers script, "Fracture" creates what at first appears to be the perfect crime. We see Crawford shoot his adulterous wife, Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz), point blank in the head. The police soon have the murder weapon and a signed confession.
Beachum is so cocksure of himself that he's already relocating into his digs in a fancy private sector law firm and bedding down his beautiful new blond boss (Rosamund Pike).
The legal scales begin to weigh against Beachum when Crawford starts discussing hairline fractures in eggs before announcing that he will represent himself in court.
The problem with "Fracture" is that Hopkins/Hannibal/Crawford is such a Machiavellian marvel that he simply overwhelms the other actors, laying waste to Gosling/Beachum to the point where the no-contest story begins to drag. I mean, have the poor prosecutor score a few right hooks just to keep the fight interesting.
The righteous lawyer does finally wake up enough to strike back in a surprising, though not totally convincing denouement. But, it's hard to take your bets off this bad guy.
Let's wait and see what new movie role Hopkins' Hannibal persona will take. The audience loves a good villain.