Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins), a gifted engineer in Los Angeles, discovers his wife has an affair with detective Robert Nunally. Crawford confronts her, shoots her, resulting in her coma, and confesses the crime to detective Nunally at the scene.
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A battle of wits ensues with coming man deputy D.A. Will Beachum (Ryan Gosling). He is preoccupied, making preparations for his transition from criminal law to corporate attorney for a prestigious law firm. At the trial, Crawford acts as his own attorney and discloses that Nunally, the arresting officer, was not only sleeping with his wife, but assaulted him on his arrest, and was also present at his interrogation. Consequently Crawford's confession is ruled out as evidence. Then Beachum finds out that Crawford's gun has never been fired, which is puzzling, because the house had been under surveillance from the time of the shooting to the arrest of Crawford. Tempted, Beachum decides against Nunally's idea to plant false evidence to incriminate Crawford. And lacking new evidence, Beachum is forced to give up the trial, and Crawford is free to go.
Beachum's job with the renowned firm is now history. However, he also starts to see the value of his job as D.A. Realizing that Crawford plans on ridding himself of his wife - and only eyewitness to the crime - once and for all, Beachum succeeds in organizing a court order to keep her on life-support, but is unable to prevent the hospital staff from turning it off.
A cell phone mix-up makes Beachum realize that Nunally and Crawford used the same gun type. He reasons that, beforehand, Crawford must have switched his gun with Nunally's at the hotel room where his wife and he rendezvoused. Then he shot his wife with Nunally's gun, and the detective arrived carrying Crawford's. While Nunally tried to revive her, Crawford reloaded his gun and put it where the detective had left Crawford's gun, which Crawford then took. Distracted, Nunally hadn't noticed the switch. When Crawford appeared flaunting his gun, the detective assaulted him, unknowingly holstering the murder weapon, and having the unused gun taken into evidence.
Beachum shows Crawford the new evidence. Since his wife has now died, the bullet inside her head can be recovered and matched with the detective's gun. Crawford confesses, assuming to be protected under the Double Jeopardy Clause. However, Beachum discloses that by shutting down his wife's life-support, Crawford can now be prosecuted for murder, previously only having been tried for attempted murder.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's an intelligent story about an interesting battle of wits.
Best scene in story:
Where he gets him in the end, because double jeopardy doesn't apply here.
Opinion about the main character:
He is a rising star who is about to choose for himself but changes course and decides to serve the public cause, seeing the value of it in the face of evil.