Murder By Numbers /

Rated: R

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ben Chaplin, Agnes Bruckner, R.D. Call, Ryan Gosling 

Directed by: Barbet Schroeder 

Produced by: Barbet Schroeder, Susan Hoffman, Richard Crystal 

Written by: Tony Gayton  

Distributor: Warner Brothers

Movie Image
Movie Image
Movie Image

     Murder by Numbers entangles a haunting story with an interesting and unique way to go about the “crime” premise. The characters are intelligently weaved into a type of flash-back type direction that withholds the power to do anything, due to its astonishing beauty within. Every aspect is like a real mystery, and the film in its entirety keeps viewers guessing during every second of its two-hour duration. Beside the many green-screen errors, the plot itself is flawless; this is the movie that High Crimes was supposed to be. They both have two very popular leading ladies, and stunning features, but this out beats the many plot holes that “Crimes” has. Murder by Numbers is insane in terms of the risks that it took in its execution, but the end result is solid filmmaking. The risks Barbet Schroeder and the other filmmakers took in making it were highly dangerous, but they should be complemented for doing so.

     The plot stars two boys in high school. One is prep, and the other is a nerd. With ones popular daringness, and the others brains; they figure together that they will be able to commit the perfect murder. They choose to pick a random suspect, and challenge the laws ability to investigate a crime. Sandra Bullock plays a detective that is in charge of the murder; and is able to get on their tails a lot faster than they thought. The direction and production are done in such a way where the story is constantly switching from past to present, as new evidence is found in the investigation; video of the moment discovered is shown. In my mind, the style in which they chose to show the story is fabulous; I like to think of it as more of a rapidly moving video diary.

     The green screen job is tacky. This isn’t entirely the producers’ fault; the average budget restricted them from creating more advanced special effects. The scenes that didn’t even need to be done on a separate screen were, and that’s what I can’t understand. A picture is superimposed onto the background in a scene where a guy is talking outside of a phone booth. This could’ve been perfectly done on a movie set, but instead we get a stupid looking outline around him; it just didn’t fit.

     The cast as a whole was phenomenal. Sandra Bullock was excellent as the detective, Cassie Mayweather, whose mentally disturbing flashbacks seemed to be the highlight of the entire movie. Michael Pitt was terrifyingly creepy as the insane, but knowledgeable Justin Pendleton; and even outshined Bullock in one of the more well-written roles of the year. Ryan Gosling also made a very interesting Richard Haywood, though I don’t understand why on earth he kept drooling onto his lips in every scene, maybe he thought it might make his character more of the dumb ass stereotypical football prep; but to me it was just plain gross.

     Aside from the poor special effects, Murder by Numbers excels in making one of the more haunting thrillers of two-thousand-and-two. All of the performances are bizarre, but right were they need to be. The mystery of the plot will leave you tongue-tied until the very end. This is the most evolving motion picture in recent years that I can think of off of the top of my head, because of the fact that every clue in all of the pieces of dialogue counts as to what the end result will be; the detailed expressions keep your eyes tightly fixed on the picture. If you’re looking for a great murder mystery to spice up a Friday night, Murder by Numbers definitely has it.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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