by Tony Medley
OK, this movie isnít perfect,
but it comes close. There are some plot holes and an attorney should get
it right from the get-go. But, other than that, this is perfect. Itís
not just that itís a terrific script (Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers, from a
story by Daniel Pyne), and that the acting by everyone, but especially
Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, and Rosamund Pike, is superb. No itís not
just that. What sets this film apart is that it is expertly directed by
Gregory Hoblit (who made his directing debut with an exceptional
conversion of William Diehlís bestselling novel, Primal Fear to
the screen in 1996). I think itís maybe better than Hitchcock at his
best (like The Man Who Knew Too Much, the second one in 1955 with
Jimmy Stewart and the incomparable Doris Day; to
be truthful, Alfred made a lot of duds). Hoblit creates tension through
the setups and camera angles and music. And speaking of music, the music
in this movie (Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna) is spectacular. Especially in
the first half hour of the film where the music basically directs the
action. You know you are in a thriller because of the music that is
constantly wafting through each scene.
The story is pretty simple.
Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz), the wife of Ted Crawford (Hopkins), is having
an affair with an LAPD detective, Rob Nunally (Billy Burke). Ted doesnít
like this so he shoots her in the head. The police come and Ted
Seems a pretty open and shut
case, so Assistant D.A. Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling), who is leaving the
prosecutorís office for a big time civil law firm, takes the case
because it wonít take much time. Wrong. Ted is a crafty guy and he
insists on defending himself. The rest of the film is the match of wits
between Ted and Willy, as Willy gets involved with his new boss at his
new firm, the beautiful Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike), which complicates
matters as the trial doesnít turn out to be as simple as Willy had
imagined. Epitomizing Willyís problem, he tells Ted, ďIím not going to
play games with you.Ē To which Ted replies, ďIím afraid you have to, old
sport!Ē And he was correct.
There are lots of twists and
turns in the plot. The dialogue is smart and witty. All the while,
Hoblit manipulates the ambience by the use of unconventional camera
angles and the terrific music, so the audience is swept up in whatís
happening and whatís going to happen.
I liked the settings of the
film because they are so familiar. One of the opening scenes is Ted
driving up the California Incline that connects Ocean Avenue in Santa
Monica with Pacific Coast Highway, a street I see almost every day. Then
he goes to the Miramar Hotel on Ocean Avenue and I pass by it
On the negative side, product
placements are alive and well. The laptop computers used in the film all
prominently display the Apple logo.
Thatís a minor complaint.
This movie is such fun, I feel sorry for those who miss it.
March 30, 2007