Monday, October 3, 2022

Murder by Numbers too easily calculated

April 24, 2002
Sandra BullockHM is detective Cassie MayweatherHM in “Murder by Numbers.” —

Wow, this really is it. The last movie review I’ll write for The State News. The last time I ever will have to go to a movie that I don’t want to see, and the last time I ever will get a chance to bitch about it.

I’m excited, and I’m a little sad. It’s been a great time. But it will be nice to decide what I want to see for myself.

And the last movie I had to see for this job was the exact thing I despise in modern movies - a completely predictable, hackneyed thriller. I could make the easy “paint-by-numbers” joke, but why bother? Every other critic probably has beaten me to it.

But that joke would be a pretty accurate portrayal of “Murder by Numbers,” starring Sandra Bullock. The tormented detective, the rookie partner, the twisted killers - it’s all there, ready for mass consumption. Too bad this one went sour a long, long time ago.

Bullock, whose career has been nothing short of stinky, plays Cassie Mayweather, a workaholic, alcoholic detective. Her partner, Sam Kennedy (Ben Chaplin), is assigned to her for his training, mostly because no one will work with her.

Right off the bat they start dealing with a mysterious murder, finding facts that lead Cassie to believe someone went to a lot of trouble. The facts include weird fibers placed at the scene, odd bootprints and a convenient culprit.

Not that there’s any mystery for those in the audience. We’re immediately shown Richard Haywood and Justin Pendleton (Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt) talking about and planning the murder. The two are bored high school students, obviously attracted to one another, who have decided to commit a crime just to prove they can. If only they just would admit their love for one another and get it on, none of this would have happened.

Well, of course, Cassie puts all the pieces together, thanks to the pretentious Justin throwing up his caviar dinner at the scene. She quickly figures out that an absinthe-swilling, Nietzsche-spouting spoiled high school student would probably be a likely suspect.

Blah, blah, blah, it all ends in a big shootout climax where nothing is as it seems. Yawn. By that time, the average audience member will be so bored with all of it the credits will seem like sweet, sweet mercy.

Well, there you go. That’s the end of it all. Nearly a whole damn year I’ve spent writing these things, and it all comes down to a Sandra Bullock movie. Somehow, I always knew it would end like this. Heaven forbid I would have managed to see “Spider-Man” early, or gotten an invite to a “Star Wars” junket. No, I get to end my illustrious career talking about the woman who made “Speed 2: Cruise Control” and “Forces of Nature.”

But even without the blaze of glory, it’s time for this critic to ride into the sunset. To chase that rainbow or keep on truckin’, whatever you prefer. But before I do that, I’ll leave you with this: Freddie Prinze Jr. eats my poop. There, both of my trademarks, one last time. Enjoy it.

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