Murder by Numbers (2002)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  19 April 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 41,820 users   Metascore: 50/100
Reviews: 301 user | 135 critic | 35 from

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



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2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ray Feathers
Captain Rod Cody
Asst. D.A. Al Swanson
Janni Brenn ...
Ms. Elder
Restaurant Manager
Mr. Chechi
Olivia Lake, the Victim
Male Officer in Flashback
Lab Technician


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. When the plotting boys both dig class-mate Lisa Mills, their unnatural bond comes ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The only flaw in their plan was her. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language, a sex scene and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 April 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Foolproof  »

Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,307,394 (USA) (19 April 2002)


$685,907 (Australia) (15 November 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The old lodge on the bluff was constructed especially for the movie and was torn down after filming was completed. The interior scenes were shot on a set. See more »


After Richard shoots Justin, when Cassie starts pulling Justin away, there is clearly no wound on his upper arm. The wound only appears after she has finished dragging him away. See more »


[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]
See more »


References Ri¢hie Ri¢h (1994) See more »


I Shall Believe
Written by Sheryl Crow and Bill Bottrell
Performed by Sheryl Crow
Courtesy of A&M Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The numbers don't really add up
14 January 2003 | by (Malmo, Sweden) – See all my reviews

It's a swell thriller: a reasonably sophisticated plot, with some neat twists and turns, good camera work, and a kind of satisfactory ending. But just as with the murder story in question, the flaws become apparent at closer examination.

Most important, the characters are not sufficiently presented and explained. The deadly duet shows a very close relation, but not what keeps it so close. It would be easy enough to understand, if they were lovers. Then their quarrel over a girl also makes sense. Since they are not - as far as the movie shows us - their relation remains a mystery.

The same, to a lesser extent, is true about the detective duet. Bullock is not really able to convince with her tough exterior to hide inner wounds, although that should be easy for an actor of her experience, and her male colleague gets no room in the film to show us why he stands her, after what she puts him through the very first days they work together.

Although it's mainly a thriller, I guess this movie would have needed some additional efforts on the drama of it, the emotional processes included in it. Maybe it's all too logical - like numbers.

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