Murder By Numbers

5 out of 10


Psychotic Loner vs Psychotic Loner

"Crime is liberty and liberty is a crime" would fit well as an election slogan for Tony Blair, the British PM, but here is the basic tennet of belief of Justin Pendleton, another rich, snivelling geek, this time from an American high school. Tormented by womanising rich-kid Richard Haywood whose "cool" shallow personna that he so wishes to emulate, he attracts his attention with a plan to perform the perfect crime, a murder of a random woman which they will pin on an unsuspecting school janitor by using the Police's own procedures against them. Although it seems like the classic pitch of the old lie that intelligent messed-up loners are the world's biggest danger, they run into problems when they discover that the investigating Police Officer, Cassie Mayweather is, herself, a severely messed up loner too.

In a clear effort to grab again for her heydays in action movies like "Speed" and "The Net", Sandra Bullock takes a break from her seemingly endless run of shallow romantic comedies and lame brotherhood of sister movies to play the cop who is a truly attention-seeking psycho in what must be amongst the most classic cases of typecasting in Hollywood history. As Sam Kennedy, her sidekick cop, is British actor Ben Chaplin, effectively reprising his role from "Birthday Girl" as the fish-out-of-water clumsy klutz who is seduced by the leading "lady", but who, through his own innocence, trust and patience is able to make headway on her personality disorders. ...And, as usual, for high school kids, it's another cheap raid on the Dawson's Creek redundants to secure Michael Pitt as Pendleton and the Mickey Mouse glee club alumni for Ryan Gosling as Richard Haywood..

Sadly, the writers themselves clearly lacked Pendleton's supposed genius. After an interesting premise, they obiously had little idea where to send the plot in the last reel and as the film drifts into being clockwatchingly long, they send the characters suddenly scurrying around like rats on steroids to tie everything up overly quickly with a joke effort at a twist at the end that is dependent on a crummy cliffhanging stunt, straight out of a Zorro matinee.

Death by tedium

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett