Director – Brad Anderson
Cast – Sam Worthington, Lily Rabe, Stephen Tobolowsky
Brad Anderson can direct films like Fractured — his latest, out on Netflix — in his sleep. So as a fan of his work, it came as a bit of a letdown that the filmmaker appeared to have done just that.
Armed with exactly the sort of Hitchcockian premise that you’d expect from one of his films, Fractured wastes a deviously inviting set-up in favour of a rather by-the-numbers conclusion. You will see the plot twists from a mile away, calling more attention to themselves than the golden arches of a McDonald’s on an abandoned highway.
Watch the Fractured trailer here
Sam Worthington plays Ray Monroe, driving cross-country with his wife and young daughter to celebrate Thanksgiving with his parents. At a rest stop along the way, little Peri Monroe has a fall and breaks her arm. Ray and his wife rush her to a hospital they passed a few miles back, and immediately, things take a turn for the strange.
Ray is asked odd personal questions by the orderlies, his insurance is turned down and he notices suspicious-looking packages being smuggled from back doors. After being sent round and round in circles for a few hours, a doctor (played by the always morally ambiguous Stephen Tobolowsky) arrives to check up on Peri. Yes, she seems to have fractured her arm, the doctor agrees, but perhaps they also ought to get her head checked for internal injuries to be safe. He advises Ray to get a CT scan done, and Peri is quickly taken to the basement with her mother, while Ray returns to the waiting room.
Sam Worthington, Lily Rabe and Stephen Tobolowsky in a still from Fractured.
Several hours later, a worried Ray asks the receptionist to check up on his wife and daughter, but they seem to have no record of either of them. Dr Berthram, who attended to Peri earlier, has left for the day. And none of the orderlies remember Ray arriving with anyone but himself. With increasing dread, Ray realises that his family has disappeared.
As someone who considers The Lady Vanishes to be Alfred Hitchcock’s most entertaining movie, a modern-day ‘adaptation’ directed by Brad Anderson is right up my alley. And for roughly an hour, Fractured is quite gripping; fast-paced, clever, and suitably intriguing thanks to atmospheric cinematography and an eerie piano score. The hospital itself provides an effectively sinister setting, where you’re never quite sure whom to believe, and the plot rarely, if ever, takes silly detours.
But then the film collapses upon itself towards the third act, when the action escapes from the confines of the facility, and thereby releases the tension that Anderson had so meticulously built.
Sam Worthington in a still from Fractured.
That being said, Fractured is still a better film than Jodie Foster’s Flightplan, which essentially did little else but to uproot The Lady Vanishes’ plot from a train and plonk it inside a plane. There’s some interesting subtext about the rigmarole of the healthcare system, which will be relatable not only for Americans, but also to Indians accustomed to queuing up for basic stuff. And Anderson is, as he has proven in the past with films such as The Machinist, Session 9, and Transsiberian, skilled at making nifty little thrillers.
Sam Worthington’s performance as Ray might not be on par with what Christian Bale did in The Machinist, or with Halle Berry’s work in The Call — the two best performances that Anderson has extracted from his actors — but it has that stoic leading man energy that so many noticed about a decade ago.
Fractured is in no way breaking the mould, but for its audience, it can be a good enough reason to plaster yourself to your couch on a quiet evening.