This is an enjoyable enough thriller - has that `seen it before' vibe, but raised above the level of the plethora of similar movies by its star performances and glossy veneer.
Plot wise, the obligatory twist in the standard murder investigation is that we see right off that Anthony Hopkins murders his wife. The rub comes, when he looks like he might get away with it, and the only thing between him and freedom is a young up-and-coming public prosecutor, played by Ryan Gosling. He is starting a new job for a new boss (Rosamund Pike, from Die Another Day - much sexier here) in a high profile corporate law firm. So for him it becomes a question of conscience - can he let the murderer go, so that he can move on with his new career, or will he jeapordise his new career to do whatever it takes to `bring him down'.
So things are set up less as a whodunit, but more as a Columbo episode format. We know he did it - but will the good guy figure it out? None of the scenes have too much in the way of surprises, and the twists are fairly well flagged. So what we are left with is a very glossy looking thriller with superior performances. Sure, Hopkins has had better moments, and could be accused of sleepwalking through the movie, but Hopkins on autopilot is still better than the rest of the pack. And the big surprise is Ryan Gosling - here, he puts in a memorable central performance. The movie hinges on our buying into this character, and Gosling pulls it off. It's Gosling that raises this to a 4 star movie.
It's clear the plot set up will never be entirely satisfactorily resolved, as evidenced by the two alternative endings where they played with how best to finish the story off. In the end, they chose the best option, even if it does feel somewhat anticlimactic. The other deleted scenes add little to proceedings.
All in all, despite a gnawing sense of familiarity, this works well, thanks in large part to the strong cast.