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The Oxford Murders (2008)

 -  Crime | Mystery | Thriller  -  2 July 2010 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 19,276 users  
Reviews: 88 user | 71 critic

At Oxford University, a professor and a grad student work together to try to stop a potential series of murders seemingly linked by mathematical symbols.

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(as Alex de la Iglesia)

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
...
Alex Cox ...
...
...
...
...
Alan David ...
Mr. Higgins
...
Defense Lawyer
James Weber Brown ...
Doctor
Ian East ...
Howard Green
...
Howard Green's Wife
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Storyline

At Oxford University, a professor and a grad student work together to try to stop a potential series of murders seemingly linked by mathematical symbols.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexual content/nudity and some violence/disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

2 July 2010 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los crímenes de Oxford  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,191 (USA) (6 August 2010)

Gross:

$3,607 (USA) (13 August 2010)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the initial introduction between Martin (Elijah Wood) and Mrs. Eagleton (Anna Massey), they speak about her replica of the German Enigma cipher machine. Mrs. Eagleton states everything was done manually to break the Enigma messages. Mrs. Eagleton states "there were no computers in those days (World War II)" and "calculations were done by hand." Actually, the British, working in Bletchley Park, did build a computer called Colossus by January 1944. Colossus was constructed with up to 2,400 vacuum tubes and programmers used approx. 1" wide paper tape to store programming. By the end of the war, Bletchley Park was using 10 Colossus computers to break various German cipher machines, including Enigma. See more »

Goofs

During the camera panning at >20min. when Wood is riding his bike and parks it by the fence and passes the tree, the camera cues anew. Wood's arm nearest the camera after he exits the tree does not match the way it was positioned when he entered behind the tree. See more »

Quotes

Arthur Seldom: I hope my failure has at least taught you something.
See more »

Connections

References V for Vendetta (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Ricercar A 3
Performed by Barthold Kuijen
Courtesy of Sony BMG Music Entertainment Spain
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User Reviews

Clue 2: The Post-Grad Version.
1 November 2008 | by (Luoyang, China) – See all my reviews

The Oxford Murders is one of a very rare type of movie, I'm not even sure what you would call it. Intellectual Thriller, or maybe Nerd Mystery. Whatever the category, it's one of those thrillers where the leads are so intelligent and inquisitive that they often fly into uncontrollable excitement because of some new bit of mathematical code that just popped into their minds.

It starts out with a great hook – a professor is telling a story to his class about a man who, in the midst of a heated battle, sat down amidst all of the gunfire around him and wrote feverishly in his notebook, because he absolutely had to write down what was in his mind at that very moment. What was so important that he would risk his life?

Much of the first part of the movie is a philosophical discourse which asks us generic existential clichés like Can we know the truth? And how do we really know anything? Elijah Wood stars as Martin, a young American so eager to achieve the answers to these questions that he travels to England with the sole purpose of picking the brain of a Professor Seldom (whose name sounds like it belongs in a Harry Potter story), the man who was giving the lecture at the beginning of the movie.

You see, Martin believes that if we uncover the secret meaning of numbers, we'll know the secret meaning of reality. I'm going to just come right out and say that the movie pretty much lost me at this point. I'm not sure how the meaning of numbers is connected to the meaning of reality, or if the meaning of reality means the meaning of life or just the true nature of our surroundings, and most importantly, I didn't know there was a secret meaning of numbers. In fact, until I saw this movie, I thought that mathematics was a universal language. Maybe I didn't pay enough attention in my college philosophy classes.

Regardless, questions like these soon become of the utmost importance, as a series of murders begin happening that seem to be driven by an intellectual motive. At this point you'll notice that every character's behavior and background is designed to make them a suspect, and the movie literally turns into a game of Clue. During their investigations, Seldom and Martin actually discuss the similarities to Clue and how best to solve the mystery using that format.

To muddle things even further, the movie uses philosophy to stretch reasonable doubt to the absolute extreme. Seldom explains to Martin in dramatically hushed language that no matter how certain and clear and obvious the evidence, we can never be ABSOLUTELY certain who the killer is.

This is the kind of nihilism that leads to the logical conclusion that we should just open all of the prisons and let everyone run free, and maybe even dismantle the entire legal system because, following that logic, it clearly serves no purpose.

But one thing I did love about the movie is how Martin shows up from America, this gigantic math geek if ever there was one, and immediately makes friends with two beautiful girls who immediately fall in love with him. I hate it when that happens! One of them, who he met while playing racquetball, is so stunningly beautiful that it makes no sense when she falls for this guy. She makes Elijah Wood look like a little kid!

I think there's a good sex scene in the movie where you can see her naked, but I missed almost the entire thing because I fainted when she took her shirt off.

There is a complicated and unnecessary back story late in the film about a past student of Seldom's who drove himself insane with his strenuous efforts to answer some of the some of the questions of the universe until he ended up helpless on a hospital bed because his body couldn't keep up with his mind. He loses his legs and his mobility and his sanity and then can't even do better than a hospital that has so little respect for its patients that they would leave a legless man lying naked on his stomach for all to see. Nice.

But in the movie's defense, despite all of the mumbo jumbo throughout the film, the climax is actually pretty good. You may feel completely lost for a good part of the running time unless you have a little background in mathematics and philosophy yourself (I don't).

But unfortunately, they still can't resist handing us a nicely packaged philosophical sound bite to wrap everything up at the end, which creates a little problem. The mystery in the movie has been allowed to solve itself, and to do so in a pretty impressive way, but then they give us an entirely different solution through dialogue – a crazy solution.

I'm willing to bet that this story looked great on paper, but on the screen there is a little too much nonsense to deal with and FAR too much high-brow intellectualism. It's safe to assume that a large portion of the audience will feel pretty alienated. I personally have a tough time relating to characters that get uncontrollably excited about things like historical philosophy and math theory, and an entire movie based on things like this is even more of a challenge.

On the other hand, in a time when our movies are overflowing with stupidity, we should cherish the ones that really try to give us something to think about. But personally I prefer the ones that are just a little more accessible…


15 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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