MURDER BY NUMBERS (2002)

Directed by: Barbet Schroeder

Writing credits: Tony Gayton

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ben Chaplin, Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt, Agnes Bruchner

Running time: 120 minutes (U.S.)
Format: DVD, VHS, cable TV
Rating: R (violence, language, sex scene, brief drug use)
Genre: Crime/Thriller

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Two teenage boys plan and execute the perfect murder. Only one cop suspects the real killers and she's so messed up with her personal demons that no one else in the police department is willing to listen to her theories. Heck, no one wants to even be her partner, let alone let her lead a murder investigation.

The premise for this movie is interesting, if not entirely original. The two young killers were sufficiently menacing to get their point across but I didn't buy into any of the story, as it was presented. I'm not sure whose fault that was. Certainly, better casting might have helped. A better script would have helped. And forcing Sandra Bullock to act might have helped.

Don't get me wrong... I like Sandra Bullock-in some movies. When she's in character, she can be very good (Speed, While You Were Sleeping, Miss Congeniality)and even mediocre isn't too bad (Practical Magic, Hope Floats). But when she's bad, she's really awful. I didn't have any sympathy for her character at all and that's a problem because without that, the movie just drags. At 120 minutes, a movie can't afford to become boring.

After suffering through what seemed like hours of Bullock's character showing us how damaged she was, I just wanted to shout, "get over it!"

In someone else's hand, this could have been a truly intriguing and frightening foray into the twisted mind(s) of a teenage killer, the unforgiving product of a culture, our culture, that treats its children as if they were disposable refuse.

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