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Murder by Numbers

What a cast, what a premise! What a disappointment. MURDER BY NUMBERS is truly crime drama by the numbers.

Sandra Bullock stars as Cassie, a damaged homicide detective on the trail of a killer. Socially awkward and unpredictable, Cassie is confusing to her smart new partner Sam Kennedy. Ben Chaplin (The Legend of Tarzan, The Thin Red Line) can't put his finger on Cassie's methods, or her motivations when she becomes sexually aggressive toward him.

They seem at opposite ends of the murder case, which has an obvious suspect, perhaps buried under TOO much evidence.

Two wealthy young teenagers on a quest for the perfect murder soon emerge as alternate suspects.

Ryan Gosling is Richard, the cooler, smoother of the two, seemingly leading the other young man Justin down a dangerous road.

Justin is played by Michael Pitt (Seven Psychopaths) in a good performance down some twisting plot points.

Unfortunately, the motivations are more in service of the story than any logical motivations, making it tough to invest in the characters.

Bullock is ok as Cassie, not especially likable, but she's soon buried under stereotypes. She lives in a houseboat? She's a loner? She likes to drink alone? WOW, who would have thought....

Things get very convoluted by the cliff side conclusion. It feels like a Hitchcock ending and a splash of special effects were tacked on to liven things up.

Gosling is always great and he's just fine here with the predictable role he's given. Chris Penn is good as the school janitor well framed for the murder.

It's all just OK, nothing special, nothing too exciting, feeling more like an episode of Law & Order than a feature film.

I'll give it a C-. Meh.

Speaking of Hitchcock, if you want to see a much better version of this story, see 1948's "ROPE". It's excellent.

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