REVIEW BY DAVE SMITH
This film is not exactly a "whodunnit" because we know from the get-go who did it. The mystery is...HOW did he do it?
I must say in all modesty, that I figured out how it was done almost immediately. I am one of those guys who whispers
the answer to his wife, thus spoiling the film for her. I have a problem accepting the fact that none of the veteran
detectives assigned to the case could figure it out.
Anthony Hopkins shoots and kills his wife then tells hostage negotiator
Billy Burke that he did it. Burke is shocked to find that Hopkins wife is the woman with whom he has been having an affair.
It's obvious that Hopkins found out and is seeking revenge. He has a nice plan to involve Burke as well. The big problem
is the murder weapon is nowhere to be found. It has to be in the house because Hopkins never left the house after the
shooting. Despite the best efforts of the law enforcement experts, the gun can not be located.
Enter Ryan Gosling who plays
a young attorney working for the city prosecutor's office. He has just been offered a job by a very prestigious law firm.
However he is assigned to prosecute Hopkins as his last case before leaving. Gosling, some may remember, was nominated for
an Oscar for the film Half Nelson. He is just 27 years old but he has already made 24 films. Thus Gosling has no
problem holding his own against the intimidating Hopkins. There are some great scenes as these two match wits.
Hopkins character is a very
successful structural engineer and could have hired the very best lawyers. However, he surprisingly decides to
defend himself. In the middle of the trial he reveals the hostage negotiator was having an affair with his wife. He has
proof because he hired a private detective to take photos of the couple. This means all of Burke's testimony can not be
used as evidence. The judge rules a mistrial and Hopkins is free to go home. Gosling loses the case as well as his
chance to move on to bigger and better things with the prestigious law firm. Then a simple incident reveals to Gosling
how the gun disappeared. Hopkins thinks he is safe because he can't be tried again for the same crime. Unfortunately
his wife, who has been in a coma all this time, finally dies. This means Gosling can go after Hopkins for murder rather
than attempted murder.
Why Hopkins didn't consider this is hard to understand. As clever as he was portrayed, he
should have anticipated this turn of events. Oh well, most movie mysteries have a lot of holes in them and this one is no
exception. Mystery lovers will enjoy this film even though it will not go down as one of the best of the genre.