Hopkins in uncompelling court drama

2008-10-02 08:05

Anthony Hopkins is back in his comfort zone as a scheming killer. No secrets here, it's out in the open from the outset. The drama therefore turns not so much on catching the killer, but in outwitting him in court. His adversary is an ambitious but thoroughly unconvincing public prosecutor (Ryan Gosling), who has an eye on a job offer from a big private law firm.

Hopkins plays the role of an engineer with an obsession with detail, and it's with that sense of meticulousness that he contrives what appears to be an unsolvable crime when he shoots his wife. Much of the movie seems more like a hypothetical exercise set in a law exam, in which real determinants are ignored as if they did not exist so that all that matters is pure logic and arguments. Fun, but not compelling, and even less so when the solution lies not in brilliant reasoning but in a contrived little coincidence that is grafted on to a cliché to set up the climax.

Hopkins is at least good value as the calculating, scorned husband, but his presence is diluted in a web of irrelevant distractions. ***

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