Following up his taut 2018 political thriller Beirut, director Brad Anderson has decided to join the growing throngs in offering up his latest feature on Netflix. Good thing, since it saves you from plunking down a ten-spot (or more) on Fractured in the theater and then grappling with the lousy feeling that those were two hours you’re never going to get back.
Joining the realm of Flightplan-esque, keep-you-guessing films that are watchable right up until the SMH “big reveal”, Fractured has all the promise (and premise) in the world. Sam Worthington stars as Ray, a recovering alcoholic driving home with his wife Joanne (Lily Rabe) and six-year-old daughter Peri (Lucy Capri) after Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws. Halfway across the middle of nowhere, they pull in at a gas station, which is next to a construction site, where Peri slips and falls down into a pit. Ray grabs for her, but he ends up falling, too.
When he regains consciousness, the girl has only sustained a broken arm (and he has a couple bumps and bruises), but they head to the local hospital for an MRI just in case. After waiting hours for his wife and kid to come back from Radiology, Ray asks at the front desk and is promptly told they have no record of Peri ever being in the hospital, and that no one has had an MRI since early that morning.
Is her dreaming? Is he dead? Is he drunk? Is the hospital kidnapping grown women and cute little girls? Or, worse, are they killing people and harvesting their organs? You may find yourself thinking all of these over the course of Fractured’s run time… that is, if the monotony of Ray arguing that his wife and kid are somewhere, and the hospital arguing, no, sir, they are not, doesn’t make you want to throw something at the TV before you ever get close to finding out the answer.
The well-conceived but poorly-gestated script by Alan McElroy (of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever fame) is stuffed so full of red herrings, you’ll think it’s sunset in Scandinavia. Even worse, you’ll catch on very quickly that he’s just toying with you early and often, yanking the proverbial rug out from under you every chance he gets, just because he can. And once the truth is finally discovered, more and more of what you just witnessed will make less and less sense.
As for Anderson, the promise he showed not only on Beirut but also on 2008’s Transsiberian and 2013’s underrated The Call, is squandered almost criminally here, as he relies far too much on trite shaky-cams and blurred lenses to signify confusion—in what I can only imagine was a conscious decision to help distract from the frustrating script. It all combines to make Fractured feel like exactly what it is, a second-rate forgettable film that was too lousy for theaters but just right for Netflix to snap up, knowing they wouldn’t have to answer to irate theater goers demanding a refund.