WHAT ITíS ABOUT
Wealthy executive Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) learns that his wife (Embeth Davidtz) has been cheating on him, so he shoots her in the head instead of divorcing her. When the police arrive, they think they have an open-and-shut case. And when Crawford waives his right to counsel, hotshot prosecutor Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) thinks this will be a slam-dunk. However, Willy soon learns that Crawford is manipulating the system more than he thought possible, and he soon goes on the defensive himself to seek justice in the attempted murder case.
WHAT I LIKED
Hands down, the best part of this film was Anthony Hopkins in a rare villainous performance outside of the Hannibal Lecter character. Hopkins is not the giggling psychopath that we so often see in this kind of film, and he resists the urge to cheese up the role. Rather, he gives a chilling performance as a sociopathic husband looking to exact revenge on his wife and her lover.
In a way, Hopkins is so good that I actually found myself rooting for him more than I did the other characters in the film. Itís not that I empathized or even justified his actions. Rather, Hopkins is both disturbing and loveable in this movie. Thereís a charm that he has as an atypical villain that makes him extremely fun to watch.
I tend to like a good courtroom drama, and even though the film goes heavy on the drama part rather than accuracy of the courtroom, itís still interesting to watch outside of the almost continuous slate of lawyer shows on television.
WHAT I DIDNíT LIKE
As much as I liked Anthony Hopkins, I really was not a big fan of Ryan Goslingís character of Willy Beachum. Itís not really the character, though, as much as Gosling himself, whom I consider to be one of the most overrated actors this side of Scarlett Johansson. Gosling channels Matthew McConaughey in his cockiest of roles, and I just couldnít get on his side.
Similarly, a lot of the supporting characters Ė from Willyís main squeeze (played by Rosamund Pike) to the jilted lover (played by Billy Burke) Ė were far less sympathetic, or at least far less likeable, than the villain in the film.
Additionally, there was a lot of artistic license taken with the police procedural elements and the courtroom shenanigans. I can take a certain amount of this in films, but it is laid on a bit thick for my tastes here.
There are some standard special features on the newly released Blu-ray, although not enough to justify the discís high storage volume. A slate of deleted scenes include some alternate looks into various elements (including multiple takes of a love scene between Gosling and Pike), as well as the original theatrical trailer, are included.
Probably the most interesting piece in the special features menu are two alternate endings to the film, which donít really change the plot but rather present different angles from which to deliver the final twist.
WHOíS GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anthony Hopkins fans and those who like courtroom dramas.