"Murder by Numbers" suspenseful at times, predictable overall
Event: Murder by NumbersWhen: Skyline Cinema, DillonWhere: FridaySaturdaySundayDate: April 26Though it gains a few redeeming points here and there, the overall score is just average for Sandra Bullock’s latest murder/suspense flick “Murder by Numbers.”Following the trend she started with “Speed” and continued with flops “Miss Congeniality” and “28 Days,” Bullock contributes decent acting to a silly plot with mediocre co-stars.This time she’s a California murder detective, Cassie Mayweather, whose no-nonsense attitude and burlesque persona have gained her the nickname “the female hyena” among her fellow (all male) officers. Cassie keeps up the tough-girl image while working on a gruesome case, the mysterious murder of a young woman whose body is discovered in the woods.The culprits, we learn, are Justin (Michael Pitt) and Richard (Ryan Gosling), two disappointingly stereotypical high schoolers who set out to pull off the perfect murder. Justin is the classic nerd with a twist; he’s got a fetish for forensics, making him the brains of the operation. Meanwhile Richard, the rich, popular guy, has the manipulative abilities and inherently evil nature necessary for murder.While these roles seem clear cut through most of the action, ambiguities arise in the otherwise stale nerd/cool kid relationship. Cassie, and likewise the viewer, contemplates who is the real murderer and who’s the mere alibi.The larger question of who has the ultimate power provides a few refreshing moments of intrigue.Unfortunately, these glimmers of suspense, which have the potential to make a quality crime flick, are few and far between. They are interrupted by cookie-cutter “Scary Movie”-esque scenes such as Bullock hanging, Hollywood- style, from a cliff, and a showdown between the high school boys when life as murderers gets too intense.Cassie’s character, in the meantime, switches gears when her stoic facade crumbles. Bits of a tumultuous past relationship emerge through flashbacks and scary voices in her head. These subtle details provide another rare interlude of quality scary storytelling.Cassie, however, takes a turn for the boring when she seduces her partner Sam (Ben Chaplin). The ensuing seduction/power play weakens Cassie’s otherwise interesting character. The love plot is more of a woman-in-uniform male fantasy than a necessary element to the plot. Chaplin’s acting doesn’t add much – he stands by deer-in-the-headlights style as Cassie steals the spotlight.Thus, as the stereotypical characters follow their predictable paths, a few unique elements keep the film from deserving a completely negative review. Justin and Richard’s twisted partnership leaves you wondering what’s really below the surface and Cassie’s past and present lives interestingly intertwine.Still, these positive aspects are overshadowed by the overdone story line and blase characters.”Murder by Numbers” had the potential to be a 10, but it’s lucky to come out above zero.Amanda Roberson can be reached at 970-668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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