Murder by Numbers (Widescreen) product details page

Murder by Numbers (Widescreen)

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This Sandra Bullock vehicle is a decent thriller that tries to avoid being by-the-numbers, but staggers in its pace and in its ability to get beyond a cookie-cutter protagonist. This is not to say that Bullock is bad, but rather her tough, troubled cop character (and those of her rookie partner Ben Chaplin and other fellow cops) is weakly developed and fails to step out from standard movie-detective clichés. She also can't equal her unconventional adversaries in the film: a pair of white-collar high-school teenagers (Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt) -- one a brainy nerd, the other a handsome ladies' man -- who attempt to commit the perfect murder. The eerie idea that two bright articulate youths could resort to such heinous violence seems unbelievable until the memories of the Columbine massacre come to mind, an idea which shades the film in a disturbingly different light. Bullock's bullish detective is on to the deadly duo's murderous scent immediately, but again, the script falters in not giving her some concrete evidence for suspecting the boys. She only goes on instinct which isn't enough in light of evidence that points to another suspect and results in the usual clash with police brass. Of course, things come full circle and the daring Bullock is the only one around when it counts as the film comes to a rousing, but expected climax. Overall, the picture is slow-moving, but entertaining, and features good performances and solid direction by Barbet Schroeder, who has directed and produced a string of similar thrillers, most notably Single White Female. A script with sharper focus on the police duo could have made this one much better. Patrick Legare, All Movie Guide