'Fracture' a good reason to roll your eyes

Reeling It In

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2007


New Line Cinema

1 hour, 52 minutes

You can always tell summer is heading toward a close when you look up and realize that, suddenly, there's nothing you want to see at the movies. You get used to that new big potential blockbuster every weekend, and then, poof, all the studios scale back and all you're left with is "Rush Hour 3" in its second week. I was going to go see this movie, but then I thought, "why?"

A third film in a series that no one was clamoring for, starring two stalled comedy-action stars, directed by the man who screwed up the "X-Men" franchise. Ugh. Two hours of Chris Tucker would probably send me over the edge, so, instead, I decided to do something I rarely do review a recent DVD release.

I'd rather not critique movies for rent, if only because it kind of goes against my whole mission in life to get people to go out to the movies. I don't care how good your sound system is, how flat your TV is, or whether you've got kettle corn straight from the pot. Movies should be a social event, something above and beyond simply sitting on your couch with the remote in one hand and a handful of chips in the other.

I like my DVD-player as much as the next person, but I usually reserve those movies for second viewings. A new movie should be experienced, I believe, as the director intended it, on a 70-foot screen surrounded by one's peers. That is, unless, it's a Chris Tucker movie.

Strolling the aisles of the local video store, I pondered my choices. When I go to the video store, I'm always struck by the number of straight-to-video choices there are. They crowd the shelves, often trying desperately to look like higher profile, big-screen releases. These are movies I typically avoid because, after some of the crap I've seen in theatres, I can't imagine how bad a studio thought this film must be in order to discard it immediately to the home market.

On the other hand, some movies only look like straight-to-video because no one's ever heard of them. Lots of indie films get this treatment.

My criteria for this trip is to find something that neither I, nor my wife, has seen, and that someone might want to hear about. I first pick up "Pathfinder," a ridiculous-looking Viking vs. Indians movie set 600 years before Columbus ran aground in the new world.

Next I looked at "The Lives of Others," a German movie that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Perfect. I actually almost had this to the register when another box caught my eye. Far glossier, far more American, and far more mainstream, "Fracture," starring a post-Hannibal Anthony Hopkins and relative newcomer Ryan Gosling, seemed just the ticket. I am such a sucker.

Actually, "Fracture" wasn't too bad, but you'll note that I've spent most of this review talking about the looking rather than the actual watching. Why? Because there's not much to say. Hopkins is a brilliant sociopath (What? Him?) who shoots his wife after discovering that she is having an affair. He then proceeds to run rings around the legal system, giving fits to the hotshot Assistant DA assigned to prosecute him.

There's twists and turns and missing evidence and revelations galore, but it's so very typical. A cat and mouse potboiler where the grand plan depends on so much suspension of disbelief that it's just a house of cards. Yeah, it's entertaining to a point, but when you're done, what have you got?

This is where the theatre experience saves a movie like this. At least if I'd have gone to see this on the big-screen, when it was over I could say, "Well, it wasn't that great, but I got to go out, see my friends and have dinner. Overall, it was a good evening out."

Renting it on DVD, all I got was two hours on the couch with my wife, rolling our eyes and laughing at the lousy dialogue. This is fun, too, but if we're going to do that, we might as well get a really bad movie. Hmmm, now that I think about it, maybe "Rush Hour 3" could be good for something after all. Grade: C+

"Fracture" is rated R for language and some violence.

Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

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