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Murder by Numbers

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan
Murder by Numbers
from Film Forum,04/25/02

Director Barbet Schroeder's Murder by Numbers is a grisly, intense murder mystery with Sandra Bullock as the troubled cop on the case.

Mainstream critics are busy comparing it to television's popular series C.S.I. But religious press critics are busy questioning the appropriateness of its graphic violence. The USCCB critic says, "Despite its veneer of psychological insights, Murder by Numbers is pretty much by-the-book. It succeeds more as a creepy thriller than as the astute character study it wants to be."

"Unfortunately," says Paul Bicking (Preview), "the dialogue has a large number of obscenities and crude sexual comments. However, both Cassie and the boys learn that they have to face up to what they've done in the past."

Phil Boatwright and Steven Isaac (Focus on the Family) are troubled by the way the film's two villains unleash violence that might inspire young, ill-tempered viewers: "Following the Colorado Columbine High School massacre," writes Boatwright, "the story of two dysfunctional teenage sociopaths could be of interest, I suppose, to those studying criminal behavior. But … this film doesn't seriously examine antisocial behavior. I wondered if this production might somehow trigger a copycat crime." And Isaac asks, "Will a troubled teen watch it and pattern his or her own deadly plot after it? Will it further desensitize others to matters of life and death?"