As part of my Star of the Month spotlight, my extra review is about the film Murder By Numbers. Back in 2002, I found myself sitting in a seat at Regal Stadium 22 in Austell waiting to view Murder By Numbers. The trailer intrigued me enough to truly want to see the film. This writer will admit to being a sucker for a cop thriller from time to time. As reported in the initial Star of the month article, Murder By Numbers is the film that truly put Ryan Gosling back into the forefront of acting. This is also the film that made me remember that guy this writer used to watch on the MMC back in the early 90s. More importantly though, Murder By Numbers showcased the talent of not only Ryan Gosling but another young man by the name of Michael Pitt. While Sandra Bullock as well as the additional characters within the film were not bad, the film truly showcases its younger actors in such a way that it was inevitable for them to become stars in mainstream cinema as well as on the independent circuit. Gosling of course continues to prove this time and time again no matter what feature.
First off, the synopsis of Murder By Numbers is a tad bit complicated, but easy to follow. The film is about two high school students. Richard Haywood (Gosling) is the most popular kid in school. Rich, brilliant, and bored. Alongside another kid in his class, Justin Pendleton (Pitt), know as “Bonaparte”, together they decide that they can commit the perfect murder. This idea is due in large part to Pendleton’s rich forensic knowledge. They even set up the perfect suspect. After all, who would question a man who is obviously a serial killer in his own right? No one, not even star detective Cassie Mayweather (Bullock) will be able to discover they were the ones who committed the murder that she and new partner, Sam Kennedy (Ben Chaplin), are investigating. They two young men feel they have it especially in the bag after Kenndy and Mayweather’s disagreement that gets her booted off the case. Against her orders Mayweather continues to focus on the facts and her instincts in order to crack the case wide open and expose the high school students for the crazed psychopaths they happen to be.
As far as acting goes, Gosling proved why he would shoot to stardom within Murder By Numbers. In many ways for those who have seen him in films such as The Notebook and Remember the Titans might make the change up in characters a little difficult to focus upon, but worth it. I consider the majority of Gosling’s roles challenging and his portrayal of a disturbed high school student is no different. After all, most teenagers do not randomly wake up and decide to start murdering people thankfully. Gosling is cold, calculated, and everything the beginning of a serial killer should be made of in this sort of film. His portrayal is pitch picture, while showing what one can talk someone else into as well. Without Haywood pushing Pendleton, Pitt’s character probably would not have come up with these ideas on his own. It is possible considering that both young men are disturbed, but part of me truly believes he would not have gone through with capturing and murdering a young woman. Pitt’s performance as the quiet nerd and misunderstood youth is just as amazing. Bullock and Chaplin also have great chemistry together as partners within the film, even when they are disagreeing their passion is always there. The only complaint I have with Murder By Numbers is the film is a little long and there are some moments that could have been cut for time that would have made the film a bit more concise and more well rounded. Otherwise, this is one of the better thrillers out there.
Overall, Murder By Numbers will always be one of my favorite Ryan Gosling performances. While this writer has not read how he feels about his performance in the film, back when the film was released or now, this is a portrayal he should be proud of even today. Gosling has a way of demanding one’s attention while he is on screen and even when portraying a teenager this was no different. What really gives an added suspense to the film is how the film messes with the two teenagers. They go through their ups and downs through this pack that they have made together, this murder they have committed together, and all the while the audience is one step ahead of them. There is something fun about being let in on what the characters desperately are seeking to know themselves. The dynamic is rather interesting and quite frankly should be used in more films. Maybe one day, maybe if more people give in and check this thriller out. One can hope.
If you are interested in renting Murder By Numbers, make sure to check out this title through Netflix, your local Austell Blockbuster, Videodrome, Movies Worth Seeing, or movie channels based upon your cable or satellite provider. To purchase any Blu-rays or DVDs mentioned in this review please check out your local Austell Best Buy, Walmart, Target, or Kmart. And this weekend if you plan on seeing Drive, make sure to check out locations near and in Austell. The safe bets as always are Movies 278 and Regal Stadium 22 in Austell.