Fractured REVIEW – Sam Worthington is a Worthy Leading Man

Is it me, or is Fractured an over-used title?

The last movie I saw Sam Worthington in was Avatar, and while he has been in a slew of movies since, none have really fallen on the must-see movie radar. He has always struck me as a rather bland actor, kind of like Jason Clarke (interesting that they have both been in the Terminator franchise), present but not really memorable. So it pleases me to say that Worthington delivers a career-best performance in Fractured. As the main protagonist in the movie, he needs to steer every segment of the film, which he does with twitchy-eyed aplomb. However, because the focus is mainly on Worthington’s character, none of the supporting characters matter much, all existing in the periphery of his character and present only to contribute to his story.

Worthington plays Ray Monroe, a man caught between illusions and reality, unsure if he has lost his wits or if he is the victim of a wider conspiracy. As the viewer, we too are forced to question every scene, wondering if it really happened, our paranoia developing just as much as Ray’s does. Ray remembers his daughter Peri (Lucy Capri) having an accident, him taking both his wife and daughter to the hospital. However, the hospital claims that his daughter was never admitted, and as the investigation continues, there seems to be no trace of Peri or his wife having ever been there.

This is definitely reminiscent of movies like Flight Plan or Shutter Island, movies that create spaces for plausible doubt and credibility to breathe concurrently, and director Brad Anderson does a serviceable job with Fractured as well. It’s well-paced and there are some cool visuals – Sam Worthington’s adrenaline coked-out moment perhaps the most striking of the lot. Just as we begin to doubt Ray, something happens that brings us right back in to believing him. I was literally stumped between the real and imagined all the way till the end, where we get distinct flashbacks and absolute clarity. This is satisfying I suppose, since Anderson doesn’t leave us hanging with one of those cliffhanger type of conclusions, but a little uncertainty might have created a better product.

The movie begins in medias res, with the viewer thrown immediately into a fight between Ray and his wife Joanne (Lily Rabe), where we are privy to the turmoil that exists in Ray’s private life, and his past dalliances with alcohol. There is an instability present here, both in his familial life as well as his vulnerable self, which sets the groundwork for the ‘fracture’ to occur. Anderson practically signposts the moment to us, a suspended moment with snow falling all around (it really is quite beautiful), the camera coming close to Worthington’s face, where there’s a seeming ‘switch’ that takes place. All the volatility in Ray’s previous characterisation disappears, and he steps up, so to speak, becoming the good father and husband he so desperately wants to be.

We find ourselves rooting for him, as well as horrified by how easily a man can be perceived to be out of his mind. Ray’s passionate ravings are set against how cold and clinical everyone in the hospital is, which makes sense since we know how much Brad Anderson hates hospitals (remember Session 9?). There is a general sense of apathy that pervades the surroundings, where people are made to wait for hours before they get treatment, and Ray is continually dismissed by the staff until he gets the police involved, who are able to push the investigation forward because they have the necessary authoritative gravitas.

It’s not enough that hospitals are spaces of death and illness, Anderson needs us to fear the possibility of losing ourselves both physically and mentally within their walls. But, it is only a fear I carried for the duration of the movie, and when it ended, I proceeded to promptly forget Ray Monroe and his narrative. Psychologically it is simply not invasive enough, which results in a rather average film, though entertaining enough while it lasts.

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Sam Worthington delivers a career-best performance, which is enough to propel Fractured into the category of an entertaining watch.