Murder by Numbers

April 19th, 2002


Murder by Numbers

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Still of Sandra Bullock and Ryan Gosling in Murder by NumbersStill of Sandra Bullock and Ben Chaplin in Murder by NumbersStill of Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt in Murder by NumbersStill of Ben Chaplin in Murder by NumbersBarbet Schroeder in Murder by NumbersStill of Ben Chaplin in Murder by Numbers

Two gifted high school students execute a "perfect" murder - then become engaged in an intellectual contest with a seasoned homicide detective.

Release Year: 2002

Rating: 5.9/10 (26,878 voted)

Critic's Score: 50/100

Director: Barbet Schroeder

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Ben Chaplin, Ryan Gosling

Richard Haywood, a Californian high school's coolest kid, secretly teams up with another rich kid in his class, brilliant nerd Justin 'Bonaparte' Pendleton, whose erudition, specially in forensic matters, allows them to plan elaborately perfect murders, just for the kick, for which they set up Richard's marijuana supplier, their school's janitor Ray Feathers, as a psychotic serial killer. The case is assigned to detectives Cassie 'the hyena' Mayweather, who carries a sequoia-size chip on the shoulder from her previous life, and her brilliant new partner, Sam Kennedy, who just transferred from the vice squad; they can work together very well, and even fit romantically, but fall out over different professional attitudes towards the investigation, which Captain Rod Cody and her understandably vindictive abused ex, Assistant D.A. Al Swanson, soon ban her from when she disobeys instructions and hand to him...

Sandra Bullock - Cassie Mayweather / Jessica Marie Hudson
Ben Chaplin - Sam Kennedy
Ryan Gosling - Richard Haywood
Michael Pitt - Justin Pendleton
Agnes Bruckner - Lisa Mills
Chris Penn - Ray Feathers
R.D. Call - Captain Rod Cody
Tom Verica - Asst. D.A. Al Swanson
Janni Brenn - Ms. Elder
John Vickery - Restaurant Manager
Michael Canavan - Mr. Chechi
Krista Carpenter - Olivia Lake, the Victim
Neal Matarazzo - Male Officer in Flashback
Adilah Barnes - Lab Technician
Jim Jansen - Lawyer

Taglines: The only flaw in their plan was her.


Official Website: Official site [France] | Official site [uk] |

Release Date: 19 April 2002

Filming Locations: Altadena, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $9,307,394 (USA) (21 April 2002) (2663 Screens)

Gross: $31,874,869 (USA) (30 June 2002)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

In one scene, the camera pans briefly across a cinema that is showing The Bitter Tea of General Yen. That film was directed by Frank Capra whose grandson, Frank Capra III is first assistant director of this film.

Continuity: When Sam is driving Cassie home for the first time, we see his vehicle turning before we hear her voice telling him where to turn.

[first lines]
Richard: Shall we say the words one last time?
Justin: One cannot live fully without embracing suicide in crime.
Richard: Say it.
Justin: A pact made with relentless fire that requires that, while some live, others die.
Richard: On three...
in unison: One, two, three
[gun shot]

User Review

Gripping despite being overly familiar

Rating: 6/10

As a hard-nosed cop investigating an apparently motiveless murder, and appearing to unravel as she does so, Sandra Bullock does something approximating to real acting in Barbet Schroeder's overly familiar thriller. Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt play a couple of high school kids who commit a Loeb/Leopold style crime, planting a number of false 'clues' so that the police will build up a picture of the killer. They even have a suspect lined up. Of course, the one thing they didn't bank on was Bullock's chip-on-the-shoulder uberbitch detective.

Schroeder does not build his film visually. It has a conventional TV movie feel to it and, despite being well played, Pitt's nerdy all-knowing geek is a bit too formulaic. But the film holds you nevertheless. Schroeder displays a storyteller's gift for how things should develop, (though a subplot involving an earlier violent event in Bullock's life seems like an unnecessary intrusion). And as the cock-of-the-walk arrogant yet vulnerable rich kid killer Ryan Gosling is the real McCoy. He can convey charm and menace in equal measure and often in the same moment and confirms his status as one of the best young actors in movies at the minute.


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