Murder By Numbers: murder to watch
Phil Davetas
3/17/2003 6:36:56 PM

What’s the nicest thing anybody can say about a Sandra Bullock movie? It didn’t suck as bad as the other one. I had this huge video collection separated into genres: action, horror, comedies, etc. I even had a Sandra Bullock shelf. I’d even taken Speed out of action and threw it in the Sandy section. Recently, a friend asked to borrow a flick and the first thing she asked was, “I know you like her and all, but couldn’t you at least buy a good Sandra Bullock movie?” I thought about it. There’s never been a good Sandra Bullock movie. Ever. There’ve been movies that she was in that were good: Wrestling Ernest Hemmingway, Speed …well, I guess that’s it. But Sandra Bullock has never made a good movie where she’s the star. Tom Hanks is a famous top-billing star and continues to make bad movies. Goldie Hawn’s career has been fucked into another oblivion, but she still gets top billing. So, is Sandy gonna giggle and snicker her way to Hollywood longevity? She’s just so completely inept of putting together decent entertainment (especially now that she produces her own movies) that I can no longer tolerate standing in line to watch them. The cuteness wore off.

But we’re talking about Murder By Numbers, right? Murder By Numbershas a lot of promise. It’s a dark, edgy thriller directed by a reasonably established director, Barbet Schroeder (Candyman, Single White Female, Reversal of Fortune, Barfly). Usually, the star takes a back seat to the plot and serial killer(s). Not only is this movie laden with idiotic plot devices, bad character development and worse acting, but also it’s sloppily filmed. Murder By Numbers is a quasi-brave choice for Sandy, trying to pull off the role of a promiscuous, drunken, homicide dick-- but the movie sucked beyond all that is sucky. Even the producers must have known that it sucked so bad because they reworked the DVD package to feature Sandy’s face versus the original [and cooler] poster. In this age of upping the ante on DVD extra stuff, this package is a total waste of unused space. No behind-the-scenes, interviews, music videos, yadda-yadda. They could have at least given us something to leave us with the false impression that someone, somewhere cared enough to have spent millions of dollars on this garbage.

The only special feature on the DVD is a commentary with Barbet Schroeder and Lee Percy who basically give straight-forward film school advice on things like lighting, camera angles, and color theory. It’s good stuff, but they seem to take the film very, very seriously. They even go on to boast about the deleted scenes and extra stuff on a DVD that doesn’t exist. Actually, the trailer’s pretty cool. Too bad the movie wasn’t.

Murder By Numbers (1 out of Four)
R, 2002, 120 min., Warner Home Video.

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt, Agnes Bruckner, Chris Penn, R. D. Call, Ben Chaplin, Music by Clint Mansell, Produced by Richard Crystal, Barbet Schroeder and Susan Hoffman, Written by Tony Gayton and Directed by Barbet Schroeder.

Special Features:

Commentary with Barbet Schroeder and Editor Lee Percy, Trailer, Cast and Filmmaker Highlights.


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