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Blu-ray Review HTF Blu-ray Review: FRACTURE

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Michael Reuben, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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    Fracture (Blu-ray)

    Studio: Warner (New Line)
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 113 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
    HD Encoding: 1080p
    HD Codec: VC-1
    Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; English DD 5.1; German DD 5.1; Polish Voiceover DD 5.1; Russian DD 5.1
    Subtitles: English; Spanish; German; Polish; Russian; Ukrainian
    MSRP: $28.99
    Disc Format: 1 25GB
    Package: Keepcase
    Theatrical Release Date: April 20, 2007
    Blu-ray Release Date: June 16, 2009


    Superior thrillers are worth watching even when you know what's going to happen. That's what
    makes them rewatchable. If figuring out the ending were the only point of watching a thriller, you
    couldn't be creeped out by Psycho once you know the truth about Mother, and you couldn't be
    excited by the murky world of The Usual Suspects once you know the identity of Keyser Soze.
    Both of these films stand up to repeated viewings because they are so much more than just their
    final "reveal". Gregory Hoblit's Fracture, while not in that league, is another thriller that stands
    up to repeat viewings because it offers more than just its crime mystery. Above all, it offers a
    showdown between the unlikely pairing of Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. Warner, through
    its New Line label, is releasing a very good, albeit barebones, edition on Blu-ray.

    The Feature:

    Ted Crawford (Hopkins) is a successful engineer with his own firm. He is brilliant, arrogant and
    supremely self-possessed. He is also jealous of his much younger wife (Embeth Davidtz), who is
    having an affair with a cop named Nunnally (Billy Burke), whose specialty is hostage
    negotiation. After methodically stalking the philandering pair, Crawford awaits his wife's return
    in their luxurious home and shoots her. Then he locks the doors, making it appear that a hostage
    situation is in progress. When Nunnally is called to the scene, Crawford calmly lets him in, sets
    down his gun and confesses to the shooting. The case is open and shut.

    Enter Willy Beachum (Gosling), a young and ambitious prosecutor who is the envy of his
    colleagues for the job he has just landed with a prestigious private firm. Beachum is assigned to
    handle Crawford's arraignment, and Crawford takes a strange shine to the young prosecutor. He
    fires the public defender, insists on representing himself and waives all pretrial precedings so that
    he can proceed to trial as quickly as possible and Beachum can stay with the case. Beachum, who
    has a history of seeking out winning cases, takes the bait.

    But the case against Crawford quickly begins to fall apart. Too late, Beachum realizes that
    Crawford has manipulated the situation so that all the apparently air-tight evidence against him is
    somehow defective. Beachum suddenly finds himself in the lonely position of losing a
    supposedly slam dunk prosecution against an unrepresented defendant in a high-profile case
    that's daily making the front page - and that cushy law firm job no longer looks like a sure thing.

    Gosling is one of the screen's most dynamic young actors, and he makes Willy Beachum a
    seething bundle of ambition who can barely hold still. This makes for a striking contrast to
    Hopkins' Crawford, who is equally driven, equally purposeful, but has learned to keep all that
    energy tightly focused within. Gosling seems to have galvanized Hopkins, whose performance
    has a snap that's been missing from much of his recent work. Their scenes together crackle with
    the energy of adversaries and, by the end, you feel genuine loathing between them. Even when
    they're not sharing the screen, the performances make a strong enough impression that each one
    reverberates in the other. (This sometimes happens with the right pairing, e.g., Harrison Ford and
    Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive.)

    The film is filled out with good supporting work from reliable stalwarts like David Strathairn as
    the D.A., Cliff Curtis as a police forensics expert, Fiona Shaw as the trial judge and Rosamund
    Pike as a predatory senior associate at the firm where Beachum hopes to work. And just as an
    aside, I can confirm that a technical point of law on which the conclusion of the film depends
    is accurately represented. It's just the sort of arcane detail that an arrogant layman would


    Warner's transfer is very good, with deep blacks and excellent detail. You appreciate it most in
    the interiors of Crawford's house, which, as befits as place of secrets, has numerous areas of deep
    shadow; it also features a large, apparently purposeless sculpture built by Crawford as an
    engineering exercise, the details of which are wonderfully clear on this Blu-ray image. DP
    Kramer Morgenthau has lit most of the film with a yellowish cast, occasionally highlighting a
    specific area of the screen with a cyan tint to "pop out" a particular image. It's a now-familiar
    technique, but an effective one, and the Blu-ray conveys it effectively. I did not see much in the
    way of film grain, but this did not appear to me to indicate DNR or high-frequency filtering in the
    transfer, as detail remained solid. Rather, I suspect the lighting, processing and especially the
    digital intermediate were managed to minimize grain as much as possible. I also did not notice
    any edge enhancement.


    The disc defaults to the Dolby TrueHD track (thanks, Warner!), which is immersive and
    atmospheric without being showy. It gives you a nice sense of different environments but doesn't
    call attention to noises behind you. Fidelity is excellent, as one would expect for a recent

    Special Features:

    The same as the standard DVD, except that the Blu-ray doesn't include any trailers for other

    Additional and alternate scenes (11:12). Only one of these is of any significance, because it
    fills in details of Willy Beachum's biography. I think the film is stronger without it, but others
    may disagree.

    Alternate endings (22:47). These two alternate endings were shown to preview audiences and
    are therefore finished in a way that we don't often get on home video. Though the basic plot is
    unchanged, the mechanics of working it out are significantly different. I prefer what was created
    for the finished film, but you be the judge.

    Theatrical trailer. It gives a little too much away, but not nearly as much as some trailers.

    In Conclusion:

    Fracture was largely overlooked during its theatrical release. It deserves better. This Blu-ray,
    which should go for very reasonable street prices, is an excellent opportunity to catch up with
    one of the more entertaining thillers from recent years.

    Neil Middlemiss' fine review of the 2007 DVD can be found here.

    Equipment used for this review:

    Panasonic BDP-BD50 Blu-ray player (Dolby TrueHD decoded internally and output as analog)
    Samsung HL-T7288W DLP display (connected via HDMI)Lexicon MC-8 connected via 5.1 passthrough
    Sunfire Cinema Grand amplifier
    Monitor Audio floor-standing fronts and MA FX-2 rears
    Boston Accoustics VR-MC center
    Velodyne HGS-10 sub
  2. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer

    Nov 15, 2001
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    Real Name:
    Neil Middlemiss
    Michael - Another pitch-perfect review...thanks!

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