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"MURDER BY NUMBERS"
(2002) (Sandra Bullock, Michael Pitt) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Heavy Extreme Moderate Heavy
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate Mild Extreme Minor Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Heavy Minor Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Suspense: A homicide detective sets out to prove that two high school students are trying to get away with committing the perfect murder.
PLOT:
Cassie Mayweather (SANDRA BULLOCK) is a veteran homicide detective whose troubled past and inability to play by the rules or follow orders has given her a bad reputation with her captain, Rod Cody (R.D. CALL), and fellow cops such as Al Swanson (TOM VERICA), who's now the new assistant D.A. Given her repute, it's not surprising that it doesn't take her long to bed her green partner, Sam Kennedy (BEN CHAPLIN), who's transferred over from vice and is now working a murder case with her.

It seems that two high school students, Richard Haywood (RYAN GOSLING) - the charming and popular one -- and Justin Pendleton (MICHAEL PITT) - the intellectual loner - have formed an unlikely alliance where they've decided to attempt to commit the "perfect" murder and get away with it. Accordingly, they've studied how detectives and forensic science works, picked their victim, and then killed her.

When footprints at the crime scene are traced back to Richard, Cassie immediately thinks there's something fishy about him and his behavior, and has the same reaction to Justin when she meets him. When evidence leads to their patsy, Ray (CHRIS PENN), the school janitor and local drug dealer, however, everyone else thinks they've caught their man.

Cassie doesn't buy into any of that, and continues her investigation despite Sam, Cody and others telling her it's closed. As she does so, and Richard becomes jealous of Justin's interest in Lisa (AGNES BRUCKNER), a classmate of theirs, Cassie tries to get the two students to crack, all while they do what they can to get away with their crime.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of anyone in the cast or homicide detective/murder mysteries, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For violence, language, a sex scene and brief drug use.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • SANDRA BULLOCK plays a veteran homicide detective whose troubled past and attitude of not playing by the rules or following orders gets her into trouble with her superiors. Even so, she eventually solves the crime. She also drinks, uses profanity and has casual sex with Sam.
  • BEN CHAPLIN plays her new partner who's transferred from the vice dept. He operates more by the books than she does, but does end up sleeping with her.
  • RYAN GOSLING plays a slick, charming and arrogant high school student who, along with Justin, sets out to commit the perfect murder and try to get away with it. He does some drugs and uses strong profanity. He has sex with Lisa just to "ruin" her for Justin.
  • MICHAEL PITT plays his more intellectual friend and partner in homicidal crime.
  • AGNES BRUCKNER plays a classmate who likes Justin, but ends up having sex with Richard.
  • CHRIS PENN plays the school janitor who deals drugs to Richard and watches pornography.
  • R.D. CALL plays Cassie's captain who loses faith in her abilities and uses strong profanity.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this detective drama/thriller that's been rated R. Profanity consists of the use of at least 10 "f" words and other expletives, while various colorful phrases and sexually related dialogue (some of which is explicit) are also present. A recorded sexual encounter is seen on a computer (with movement and sounds), another couple is seen fooling around (kissing and roving hands before implied sex), while the sounds from a porno tape are briefly heard and a painting shows a bare-breasted teen.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including two teens who murder a person just to see if they can commit the "perfect" crime and get away with it. We see the bloody remains of their victim (along with some other bloody and/or gory material) as well as flashback footage of the murder. Present day violence includes another person being murdered (shot in the head) and another falling to their death after attempting to kill a cop.

    Non-lethal violence includes people hitting, threatening or attempting to kill others, as well as a woman who's suddenly attacked by a baboon (with bloody results). Some of those scenes and others may also be unsettling, suspenseful or possibly even frightening to some viewers, while the teens' actions and some other behavior might be enticing for some impressionable viewers to imitate.

    Some brief drug use and dealing is present, as is some drinking and one character smokes throughout the film. If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Richard smokes a joint and Justin then pours absinthe for both of them.
  • Cassie has a beer.
  • Richard buys some pot from the school's janitor (at the janitor's house).
  • We see a bottle of liquor in front of Cassie.
  • Cassie has a drink as do others in a bar, and then has a beer back at her place.
  • While looking through a suspect's house, a cop states that they found some marijuana buds and then jokingly asks if they should smoke them while they work.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Cassie and Sam find some vomit on the ground at a crime scene where there's a dead body partially wrapped in some plastic. We see some blood on that plastic and the victim's head, as well as some bloodless but discolored, post-mortem puncture wounds on her body. We also see that one of her fingers was cut off, leaving a bloody stump.
  • We see some photos of murder victims, one of whom appears to have rather bloodshot eyes, while another shows some blood on a counter (in black and white).
  • We see a large bloodstain on a murder victim's wood floor.
  • In a flashback, we see a woman with blood on her arm (as a result of violence against her that we don't see).
  • Cassie suddenly spots a baboon in the dark that then leaps out onto her and bites her arm (resulting in a lot of blood on Cassie's arm and face, as well as the baboon's mouth). We later see blood-soaked bandages around her arm while being tended to.
  • We see a murder victim in the past with a bloody shirt and many knife incision wounds in the chest.
  • Justin punches Richard in the face, giving him a bloody nose.
  • We see a woman with a bloody head wound and blood on the plastic around her.
  • We see Justin vomit.
  • Cassie has some scars on her chest from a prior attack.
  • We see a small, bloody bullet hole wound in a man's clothing.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Justin and Richard have both for plotting and being involved in the murder of another person and one then tries to double cross - in a lethal fashion - the other.
  • Cassie initially has a bit of a disrespectful attitude toward Sam, and some may see her having casual sex with him being more proof of that.
  • Lisa cheats for Justin by giving him a false high score when grading a quiz.
  • We see that the school janitor sells pot to students.
  • Cassie isn't nice to the new assistant D.A., a man she used to work with (and was somehow involved with).
  • Richard sleeps with Lisa just to spite Justin.
  • Cassie dumps the contents of a suspect's trashcan into the trunk of her car (so that it can be investigated).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and/or "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers as well.
  • Two young men hold guns to their own heads, prepared to commit double suicide (seen from above them). We then hear the shot, but don't see or know what happens (at least not yet). We later see this scene again.
  • Richard holds a gun to Justin's head & chin and acts like he's going to shoot him, but it turns out to be just a cigarette lighter gun and he was just fooling around with his friend.
  • After Cassie receives a letter from a parole board about a prisoner, she's a bit unnerved and we hear some suspenseful music and past, brief sounds of a traumatized woman.
  • From time to time, we then hear more such sounds from the past.
  • Cassie slowly walks through a dark shed with her flashlight when she suddenly spots a baboon in the dark that then leaps out onto her and bites her arm (resulting in a lot of blood).
  • Richard acts somewhat menacingly toward Cassie.
  • In a flashback, we see Justin waiting for a woman in the dark in her house. We then see him move toward her and then hear him hit her (we later see her still alive in a car trunk). We later see her with a bloody head wound and blood on the plastic around her.
  • In a flashback, we see Justin preparing to cut off a dead woman's finger with a large pair of sheers and then hear that crunching sound, but don't see it. He then uses a screwdriver to jab the body (we see her body move with each blow, but don't see the actual impact).
  • A man tries to hit Cassie on the head and she kicks him. He then chases after her and grabs her by the hair, throwing her out onto an old balcony/deck overlooking the rocky shore far below it. He then grabs her again and slams her into the railing, and the two struggle as the railing starts to break away. He has her by the neck and she starts to lose consciousness. She then suddenly spins around and he falls through the railing, hits some structure below them and then falls to the rocks below. The balcony/deck then partially collapses and she starts to slide off and then dangles from it. She then worries that another man who shows up is going to knock her from her grip (but she's okay).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns: Carried and/or used to threaten or kill various people. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck?" "Just bullsh*tting you," "I don't give a sh*t," "You're so full of sh*t," "D*ckhead," "Dork," "Ignoramus," "You're a jerk-off," "What the hell..." "Freakin,'" "Freaked out," "Pain in the ass," "Shut up," "Busting my ass," "Take a piss" (urinate), "Slut," "Schmuck," "Bitch" (man to man), "Moron," "Go to hell" and "Bastard."
  • It's possible some kids could be enticed to attempt to commit and try to get away with a "perfect" murder.
  • Justin and Richard hold guns to their heads, prepared to commit a double suicide (but it doesn't happen).
  • Richard holds a gun to Justin's head & chin and acts like he's going to shoot him, but it turns out to be just a cigarette lighter gun and he was just fooling around with his friend.
  • Lisa gives "the finger" to Richard.
  • Cassie dumps the contents of a suspect's trashcan into the trunk of her car (so that it can be investigated).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The sudden sound of a gunshot might startle some viewers.
  • After a light in a shed suddenly blows out (one jump moment), Cassie suddenly spots a baboon in the dark that then leaps out onto her and bites her arm (resulting in a lot of blood).
  • The sudden sound of some gunshots might startle some viewers.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of suspenseful and ominous music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • Richard listens to some song that mentions something about 666 (but the other lyrics couldn't be understood).
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 10 "f" words (3 used sexually as is the phrase "get laid"), 5 "s" words, 2 slang terms using male genitals ("d*ck" and "pr*ck"), 1 slang term using female genitals ("p*ssy"), 4 asses (1 used with "hole"), 2 hells, 1 crap, 1 damn and 1 use each of "G-damn," "Jesus," "Oh God," "Oh my God" and "Swear to God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • After hearing Justin's report in class, a female student tells him, "You really need to get laid."
  • Cassie explains why the men in their department call her the hyena. She states that the female hyena has a mock penis. Sam then asks whether that bothers her (them saying that), and she jokes that she wears loose-fitting slacks and it's not really a problem.
  • We see some paintings on Lisa's bedroom walls that show a bare-breasted young woman (she says she modeled for them).
  • A janitor tells Richard that he'll give him some pot for free if he brings over some ponytailed cheerleaders. During this, the janitor is apparently watching a porno tape (we hear a woman's pleasured shrieking to being spanked). We later see the spines of many porno tapes on his shelves, but don't see any details.
  • Back at her place, Cassie starts coming on to Sam who's uncomfortable with that (since they're police partners). She kisses him and he asks what she's doing. She replies that it's called sex and that he should try it. He says that this isn't a good idea and she replies that he shouldn't worry as she won't get possessive. He then asks why she's doing this and she replies that it's because she wants to. We then see her lie down on the bed (clothed) and him getting on top of her (shirtless) in a head and shoulders shot where he kisses her mouth and neck. During this, he tells her to slow down, but then runs his hand along her clothed breast and tries to run it up under her shirt, but she stops him and asks him to leave that alone, adding, "Just that." It's implied that they have sex as we then see them in bed, but she then tells him that he must leave so that she can sleep. When he gets up, we see the top of his bare butt as he gets dressed.
  • In a later scene, Cassie runs her sock-covered foot under Sam's leg to his crotch, but he's uncomfortable with that, asking, "What's this?" She playfully says she doesn't know, but that they should find out. She then jokingly adds that it's not just about sex, adding that she respects him as a person. Nothing happens, however, as he leaves.
  • Justin and Lisa make out in a greenhouse.
  • The new assistant D.A. asks Sam if he's already sleeping with Cassie and then adds that if he's not, he will be (saying that's part of her m.o.).
  • Richard asks Justin about Lisa, "Did you f*ck her? You f*cked her. I saw you f*ck her." Justin says that they just kissed and that's it. Richard then says to Justin, "You helped Lisa and you didn't even get laid?" and then adds, "She spreads like peanut butter" (meaning she's easy). He then adds that Justin will be surprised what a "girl without a daddy will do for a little male attention." He then leaves Justin with a computer disk and exists. Justin then watches it and it shows Richard on top of Lisa under the sheets having sex (with movement and sounds).
  • Cassie dumps the contents of a suspect's trashcan into the trunk of her car (so that it can be investigated). When she sees some used tissues in a bag, she asks a lab technician if it's what she thinks it is, and the tech says she doesn't want to know.
  • Justin and Lisa passionately kiss in her bedroom, but a phone call interrupts them.
  • SMOKING
  • Richard smokes more than 10 times, while a miscellaneous character also smokes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • A woman briefly comments on being married young and to an abusive husband.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • That no matter how "perfect" one thinks their criminal plans might be, they usually make some sort of mistake and end up being caught.
  • Although it never comes out in a forthright manner, there are implications that Justin and Richard might be lovers or that one or both might have such feelings/inclinations toward the other.
  • The Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold murder case from the 1920s (that loosely inspired this movie).
  • VIOLENCE
  • Two young men hold guns to their own heads, prepared to commit double suicide (seen from above them). We then hear the shot, but don't see or know what happens (at least not yet).
  • Richard holds a gun to Justin's head & chin and acts like he's going to shoot him, but it turns out to be just a cigarette lighter gun and he was just fooling around with his friend.
  • We see that someone was murdered as Cassie and Sam investigate the discovery of a woman's body in the woods (there's a wound to her head, some puncture marks in her body and one of her fingers was cut off). We later see a large bloodstain on a wood floor as well as photos of past, unrelated murder victims (such as a knife and blood on a countertop).
  • In a flashback, we see a woman with blood on her arm (as a result of violence against her that we don't see).
  • Cassie suddenly spots a baboon in the dark that then leaps out onto her and bites her arm (resulting in a lot of blood on Cassie's arm and face, as well as the baboon's mouth).
  • We see a murder victim in the past with a bloody shirt and many knife incision wounds in the chest.
  • Richard drives Justin backwards into a wall in his room and then has his hand around his neck.
  • Richard shoots a man in the head, killing him (we don't see the impact or results).
  • Lisa smacks Justin quite hard on the face after he calls her a "slut."
  • Justin punches Richard in the face, giving him a bloody nose.
  • After Richard comes on to her and then tries to grab her car keys at the ignition, Cassie hits him.
  • Cassie purposefully breaks her own clock while trying to come up with a lead.
  • In a flashback, we see Justin waiting for a woman in the dark in her house. We then see him move toward her and then hear him hit her (we later see her still alive in a car trunk). We later see her with a bloody head wound and blood on the plastic around her.
  • In a flashback, we see Justin preparing to cut off a dead woman's finger with a large pair of sheers and then hear that crunching sound, but don't see it. He then uses a screwdriver to jab the body (we see her body move with each blow, but don't see the actual impact).
  • Justin holds a gun to Richard's head and then to his own.
  • As Cassie enters, Richard fires a shot, but Justin gets in the way and is hit in the shoulder. Richard and Cassie then fire several rounds at each other, including him firing several shots through a wall at her.
  • A man tries to hit Cassie on the head and she kicks him. He then chases after her and grabs her by the hair, throwing her out onto an old balcony/deck overlooking the rocky shore far below it. He then grabs her again and slams her into the railing and the two struggle as the railing starts to break away. He has her by the neck and she starts to lose consciousness. She then suddenly spins around and he falls through the railing, hits some structure below them and then falls to the rocks below. The balcony/deck then partially collapses and she starts to slide off and then dangles from it.
  • In a flashback, we see one of the young men strangling a bound and gagged woman to death (we don't see the actual contact, but there's no doubt as to what's occurring).



  • Reviewed April 11, 2002 / Posted April 19, 2002

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