Murder by Numbers (2002)

6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 5/10

The acting in the movie is strong despite the script

The story is too long and feels like a TV movie

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Murder by Numbers

Studio:  Castle Rock Entertainment

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  April 19, 2002

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Yep, it’s definitely a murder…looks like it is by the numbers

Justin Pendleton (Michael Pitt) is a school outcast and top of his class.  Richard Haywood (Ryan Gosling) is part of the privileged upper class and popular.  Together, the two have a plan to commit the perfect murder.  Unfortunately, Justin and Richard find themselves up again Detective Cassie Mayweather (Sandra Bullock) who suspects the two in the murder of a young woman despite all evidence pointing elsewhere.  Can Justin and Richard outwit Mayweather and her new partner Sam Kennedy (Ben Chaplin) or will their plans for murder be uncovered?


You’re not being a good friend right now…

Directed by Barbet Schroeder, Murder by Numbers was a cop suspense thriller which focused on both the criminals and the officer pursing them.  The movie was met with average reviews and had a so-so performance at the box office.

I am not a huge Sandra Bullock fan, but I saw Murder by Numbers not long after it was released on DVD.  I remembered it favorably and a rewatching recently showed me that memories can sometimes be deceiving.


You forgot to bring the jacks?

I will say that I don’t hate this movie, but I did find it quite boring.  For a “tense thriller”, the movie just doesn’t thrill.  I like the idea of a more balanced film that shows different aspects of a crime (by creating two interesting killers), but the movie is far too long and cliché to really keep going.

The cast actually saves this film and helps it overachieve the meandering script.  Sandra Bullock might not be my favorite actress, but she does help the movie along by breathing life into her generic “broken” character.  Both Pitt and Gosling also really add to this film.  Pitt has done a lot of interesting things beginning with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and he excels over Gosling who also has flexed in acting in Half-Nelson and Drive.  I do find Ben Chaplin as Bullock’s essentially confused partner rather underdeveloped.


I have to hold on for an Oscar movie!!!

The movie looks rather ordinary.  Other than the creepy cliffside house which looks like it came out of a children’s novel, the movie goes for a more realistic approach to the crime…as a result it is very un-stylish.  If the script had been better, this would have worked, but instead, it just adds to the level, average film.

Murder by Numbers almost feels like a TV movie or a long episode of something like Law & Order or CSI.  The only saving grace is Bullock, Pitt, and Gosling who at least make a go of the script and help push the story along.  The movie needed to shave off about 20 minutes or so and provide some better thrills…unfortunately it doesn’t happen.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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