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Stars: Anthony Hopkins,Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn, Rosamund Pike, Embeth Davidtz, Billy Burke, Cliff Curtis, Fiona Shaw, Bob Gunton

Director: Gregory Hoblit

Given Hopkins’ confession that he shot his adulterous wife who is now in a coma, Assistant DA Gosling is certain he will maintain his 97 per cent success rate when he prosecutes Hopkins in his last case before a lucrative career in corporate law – especially when the accused decides to represent himself…

Unfortunately, Gosling reckons without Hopkins’ creative plan.

Result? A clever, enthralling, consistently gripping courtroom thriller that slyly sandbags the viewer as successfully as Hopkins sandbags Gosling’s open-and-shut case. Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers’ screenplay is clever, Hoblit, who directed Edward Norton’s breakthrough performance in Primal Fear, racks up solid, sustained suspense and impressively elicits Hopkins’ least hammy performance in a very long time.

While there are echoes of Hannibal Lecter in Hopkins’ deviously mocking (he calls Gosling “old sport” and offers him the job of his attorney) psycho, he nonetheless creates a memorable character and a worthy opponent for Gosling who again proves himself one of the best current American film actors with a portrayal that more than holds its own against Hopkins’ ever-present potential scene-stealing. Probably, as with The Sixth Sense, people will claim to have spotted the ingenious early plot twist. Most likely at a second viewing, though.

Alan Frank

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Entertainment. Colour by FotoKem.
113 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Apr 2007