MURDER BY NUMBERS is a picture by numbers. Director Barbet Schroeder (REVERSAL
OF FORTUNE) connects each of the story's obvious dots with extra slowness, lest
we miss guessing any of the turns. The script by Tony Gayton (THE SALTON SEA)
features all of the crime thriller clichés from the cop who risks her life by
not waiting for backup to the ending fight set high up in a dangerous place.
Yes, we've seen this all before, but Sandra Bullock's smart performance as
Cassie Mayweather, a super detective with a troubling past, does at least
provide one reason to see the movie. Her wonderfully likable acting isn't by
the numbers. Playing a cop whose M.O. includes seducing her partner, Bullock
reminds us again how alluring she can be with nothing more suggestive than a
little foot action. As her partner Sam Kennedy, Ben Chaplin is the happy
receiver of Bullock's frisky foot.
The plot concerns Richard Haywood (Ryan Gosling) and Justin Pendleton (Michael
Pitt), two rich and bored high school students who decide to pass the time by
murdering a random victim and then framing someone else for the killing.
Although these two brainiacs figure that they'll never get caught, they don't
count on someone of Cassie's intelligence and diligence being on the case.
Although you admire the plot on an intellectual level, the movie's tension is so
slack as to make sporadic sleep possible without missing much. But, if you feel
like a mediocre movie, this is the one to choose. At least it has Sandra
MURDER BY NUMBERS runs too long at 2:01. It is rated R for "violence, language,
a sex scene and brief drug use" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes