Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Director: Adam Gierasch
Writer: Jace Anderson, Adam Gierasch
Producer: Adam Gierasch, Andrew Cohen, Raymond J. Markovich, Jace Anderson
Stars: Callum Blue, Vinnie Jones, Ashlynn Yennie, Nicole LaLiberte, John Eyez, Lance Nichols
A man with amnesia gradually unravels a mystery that reveals he may not be the person he thinks is.
The question posed by “Fractured” is, “do you think that people can change? … can a truly bad person become good and vice versa?” Dylan White wonders this often. Since waking from a years-long coma with no memory of his past, Dylan has gone on to create a nondescript persona for himself as a New Orleans chef who comes home nightly to a bland beer and a bare-walled living room. He has a girlfriend, but the real excitement in his life comes from nightmares where Dylan is seemingly transported to a weird world of naked women writhing in blood. Convinced that his visionary blackouts are keys to recovering his memory, Dylan digs into the Louisiana underworld in search of the truth about his dark alter ego.
Amnesiatic good guy discovering he used to be a bad guy is not a novel premise, although “Fractured” refreshes the idea by looking at it through a contemporary noir lens. The movie’s biggest boon is a mood-setting score from Adam Barber fronted by upright bass riffs, plunger-muffled trumpets, and velvet-voiced songbirds warbling tunes that would make Philip Marlowe feel at home. Memory-missing mysteries require an atmosphere this dense in literal and figurative smoke, and director Adam Gierasch appropriately dunks his movie in it head first.
With so much intrigue injected into the setup, the script for “Fractured” suffers a bout of amnesia itself when it forgets to put the same level of attention into developing an appealing personality for Dylan. Or developing any personality at all.
Dylan is such a blank slate that his character is as empty as the white walls of his apartment, and just as flat. Narration would have been in keeping with the noir theme, but “Fractured” instead internalizes Dylan’s identity struggle through silent stares at the ceiling and long drags on cigarettes while pondering with pursed lips. Neither of which makes for compelling cinema. While Dylan looks for the next hint that might unlock his forgotten secrets, the audience searches for a trait that might make him someone to take an interest in.
Vinnie Jones plays a high school science teacher facing a crisis of conscience when his sexuality- totally kidding. Vinnie Jones plays a grim-faced, gun-toting gangster, what else? The film’s poster confusedly makes Jones out to be the centerpiece when he is nothing of the sort. Dylan predictably discovers that he was once this cover art kingpin’s right hand man in a business of very dirty deeds. Of course, this revelation of shady criminal origins does not sit well with the new, duller lifestyle Dylan has envisioned for himself.
It doesn’t sit well with the jumbled depiction of the character either. His personality shifts miss their mark because “good guy” Dylan is never shown as drastically different than “bad guy” Dylan, and all of the various versions of him are equally lacking in charisma.
“Fractured” is oddly obsessed with emasculating Dylan at every opportunity, too. Fearful night terrors cause him to curl into a ball like a child and a sexual encounter with a boozy stripper does an unexpected role reversal when her hand ends up performing the penetration. The later reveal of Dylan’s despicable past via flashback should feel shocking compared with how he is portrayed beforehand. Instead, it is a challenge to accept the believability of his villainy when Dylan has only demonstrated the capacity to be a vacant snore.
“Fractured” starts as a traditional mystery with well-timed jolts capitalizing on the dim and smoky environment, and that phase of the film comes off as intended. The movie makes a point to show things like Dylan’s restaurant boss covering a wound on his arm and a newsflash on television about an unsolved triple homicide. However, such clues are ultimately worthless as the story literally heads into an interpretive purgatory of misplaced religious philosophy instead of remaining a reality-based thriller.
Effects are also of two minds. A brutal scalping can easily give “Maniac” a run for its money in gruesomeness alone, but digital bullet blasts and animated blood bursts pop the movie right back into an awkward unreality.
It is ironic that a movie about an identity crisis suffers from one of its own. And that is the summation of “Fractured” as a whole. How Dylan feels about the multiple sides of his personality mirrors how the viewer feels about the different angles of “Fractured.” The seedy setting, sharp soundtrack, film noir veneer, and “who am I?” mystery at its core create intrigue. Then an uninteresting lead, tangled misdirection of the plot, and trippy turn into inflated otherworldly import flip “Fractured” into a film possibly more confused than Dylan.
NOTE: “Fractured” was previously titled “Schism.”
Review Score: 60