6.1/10
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Murder by Numbers (2002)

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

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

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

Taglines:

Let The Mind Games Begin See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

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Details

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Release Date:

19 April 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Foolproof  »

Box Office

Budget:

$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$31,874,869 (USA) (28 June 2002)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In one scene, the camera pans briefly across a cinema that is showing The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932). That film was directed by Frank Capra whose grandson, Frank Capra III is the first assistant director of this film. See more »

Goofs

In the interrogation scenes Cassie and Sam are talking, and in the background Richard can be seen drinking from Sam's coffee cup. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

References The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932) See more »

Soundtracks

Anything But Down
Written by Sheryl Crow
Performed by Sheryl Crow
Courtesy of A&M Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Worth Watching Despite Irksome Plotting
9 October 2005 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Two rich, bored high school boys (Justin and Richard) enter into a demonic pact, which leads to a battle of wits between them and a smart, determined female detective (Cassie) who is haunted by her own demons. The film's underlying premise is certainly relevant to contemporary American culture, but the story is poorly plotted. The POV keeps shifting back and forth between the two boys and Cassie.

I was not interested in Cassie's tortured past, nor did I care about her relationship with her assistant, Sam. These plot points interfered with the more compelling story of two young men hypnotized by the "philosophy" of crime.

Indeed, the film works when it focuses on Justin and Richard, and their efforts to second-guess, initially the cops and then later, each other. Michael Pitt (as Justin) gives an adequate performance, and Ryan Gosling (as Richard) is more than convincing. I would have reduced the time spent on Cassie and Sam, and added some back story about Justin and Richard to give viewers more insight into the boys' motivation.

The film's visuals are adequate. There's some good camera work in the film's first and last twenty minutes. In keeping with the film's many cinematic clichés, the climax is a melodramatic cliffhanger ... so to speak. Still, the suspense was gripping. It kept me guessing as to who was going to do what to whom.

Despite a convoluted and, at times, confusing plot, "Murder By Numbers" is worth watching for its provocative premise, its suspense, and the acting of Ryan Gosling.


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