Murder By Numbers (2002)

Let The Mind Games Begin

Original Title : Murder by Numbers
Director : Barbet Schroeder
Writer : Tony Gayton
Genre : Crime
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Sandra Bullock , Frank Capra III , Richard Crystal , Nur Nur Cummings , Susan Hoffman , Barbet Schroeder , Scott Simons , Jeffrey Stott
Music : Clint Mansell
Photography : Luciano Tovoli
Distributor : Warner Bros. GmbH [de]
MPAA Rating : Rated R for violence, language, a sex scene and brief drug use.
IMDB ID : 0264935
Official site :
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poster for "Murder By Numbers" by Barbet Schroeder (2002)
Murder By Numbers (2002) - Barbet Schroeder


ÂSandra Bullock Cassie Mayweather
ÂBen Chaplin Sam Kennedy
ÂBen Chaplin Sam Kennedy


Murder By Numbers' is a psychological suspense-thriller that tells the story of a tenacious homicide detective, Cassie Mayweather (Sandra Bullock) and her new partner Sam Kennedy (Ben Chaplin) who become pitted against two malevolently brilliant young men (Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt) in an ingenious battle of wits as they try to solve a murder case.


two outstanding performances save this film `Murder By Numbers' is merely the latest version of the old Leopold and Loeb story, wherein two amoral youths plan and execute a cold-blooded murder for the sheer intellectual challenge of seeing if they can get away with it.Alfred Hitchcock had a go at the tale back in the 1940's in a film called `Rope,' and now it appears to be Barbet Schroeder's turn this time around.Aided by writer Tony Gayton, Schroeder focuses on Richard and Justin, two high school buddies living in a bucolic seaside community in Northern California, who commit murder in order to prove Justin's thesis that the courage to carry through with a crime is the ultimate form of human freedom.Anyone who has read `Crime and Punishment' will know immediately that this is not a particularly original philosophical position and, in fact, the film even makes some heavy-handed allusions to that famous novel in the fact that one of the characters in the movie keeps referring to Justin, the mastermind of the plot, as `Napoleon' (Napoleon serves as the inspiration for the novel's main character, Raskolnikov).Richard is the pretty little rich boy, popular in school for both his good looks and his attitude of cool detachment, while Justin is the nerdy intellectual, dismissed by most of his peers as creepily eccentric, who has made an exhaustive study of just how to `get away with murder' by circumventing all the forensic techniques used in modern crime scene investigation. `Murder By Numbers' is definitely at its best when it is focusing on the two youths and the strange relationship between them –, and clearly at its worst when it is viewing matters from the opposite perspective, that of the criminal investigating team led by Cassie Mayweather, played by Sandra Bullock.Cassis seems to come equipped with all the standard baggage common to lead female characters who happen to be working in a predominantly ugly (i.e. male-dominated) profession.The brusque demeanor with which she confronts most of her colleagues has earned her the affectionate nicknames `Hyena' and `Scorpion' (the former because hyenas apparently have a pseudo-penis and the latter for more obviously symbolic reasons).Not only is this beautiful young woman (as always) unattached (why are such attractive people in movies never in relationships?), but she drives men away by her refusal to let any of them get truly near to her.The filmmakers have tried to apply some psychological depth to her character by having her suffering from the effects of a traumatic event in her past, but this whole aspect seems strangely unconvincing and tacked on –, and rather distracting when what we really want to be doing is following the much more interesting drama taking place between the two boys. Although Bullock is never less than competent in the lead role, the scene-stealers turn out to be Ryan Gosling as Richard and, most especially, Michael Pitt as Justin.These two fine actors command our attention every time they appear on the screen and lift this rather routine script to the level of high drama more frequently than it surely deserves.Pitt, in particular, beautifully underplays the role of the social outcast, a boy so intellectually brilliant that he cannot connect with the flesh-and-blood people around him.Yet, the single finest aspect of the screenplay is that it does not portray Pitt as a hopelessly twisted maniac.He is, in fact, capable of both compassion and fear –, a fact which helps to make his character compelling and complex enough to pique our interest. `Murder By Numbers' is, in a way, an appropriately named movie.But thanks to sharp performances by Gosling and Pitt, the film has more to offer than it otherwise might.
poster for "Murder By Numbers"
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Murder By Numbers (2002) - Barbet Schroeder