In May of 1924, two young Jewish men named Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb had planned to commit the perfect murder they had it all thought out in there heads taking seven months to put their devious little murder into motion. They picked there target a young Polish immigrant named Robert Franks; everyone called him Bobby, Franks was an extended relative and neighbor of Richard Loeb. The duo lured young Bobby Franks into the car where either Loeb or Leopold struck Franks with a Chisel and stuffed a sock into his mouth young Franks died soon after. They covered the body and drove to a remote location near Wolf Lake in Hammond Indiana; they removed Frank?s clothes and left them by the side of the road where they soon proceeded to pour hydrochloric acid on his whole body to make ID more difficult. They soon after went to a hot dog stand to eat and hid the body under a culvert near the Pennsylvania railroad tracks, just north of Wolf Lake.
After returning to Chicago Loeb and Leopold sent a ransom note to Franks parents telling hem there son had been kidnapped they mailed the ransom note to her and destroyed all physical evidence of there involvement in the murder. Soon enough the body of Booby Franks was found and Loeb and Leopold quickly burned the robes used to move the body and the typewriter used to make the ransom note. However, a Chicago detective named Hugh Patrick Byrne found pair of glasses with a unique hinge mechanism only three were ever sold in the Chicago area one of the buyers was Nathan Leopold. Byrne brought them in for questioning and there entire perfect scheme fell to pieces there alibis were proven false and to make matters even better Loeb and Leopold confessed to the kidnapping and murder of Robert Franks they were tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison( for the murder) and 99 years(for the kidnapping). They both died in prison, Loeb and Leopold were exceptionally smart men but when it came to premeditated murder, they just did not have what it took to play the game.
Barbet Schroeder's "Murder by Numbers" is loosely based on the murder of Bobby Franks by Leopold and Loeb, while it does have the certain feel of being a fact based film this 2002 murder mystery lacks the chills and intellectual conviction to really leave you with a feeling that you've watch a compelling murder mystery. Instead, you feel like you wasted 2hrs. 1min. on a film that does not even come close to living up to it's title, what I did like about this film was the noir elements I liked the clammy, gritty feel of the picture how it swerves in and out of the darkness, how it feels so claustrophobic. That I admire about this film I also admire the fact that it was able to hold my attention through the whole thing it engaged me and made me think, if only for a little while. What I didn't like was that it was too predictable you knew the end yet you still watch, you know who is going to live and who is going to die but you still bother to see the how it ends. That is the mark of a great director it's ingenious how Barbet Schroeder is able to capture the audiences attention the way he does , but it is also such a shame how this production with good direction falls so short of the planned idea for this film. " Murder by Numbers" may not be the best of it's kind but it works none the less if it had a better script, premise and set up "Murder by Numbers" could have been a pretty good crime thriller.
When you think about it carefully, murder is never a sure thing even in the case of the two perpetrators Justin (Michael Pitt) and Richard (Ryan Gosling) who have it in there heads that they can commit the perfect crime and get away with it. There plan to me is far too preposterous to believe and in the real world there crime would be consider as average but meticulous. The murder, and how they put the idea together of how to get away with it is less than interesting or intriguing but it is entertaining to watch them work. It has intrigue, mystery and very morbid cinematography I like the look just not too crazy how it was executed.
Sandra Bullock been pegged as America?s girl next-door, as a straight out comedian who cannot handle drama. Here Bullock is playing against her likeability as a seasoned homicide detective tracking two killers (Pitt and Gosling). I like the way she plays it, I like her style her tenaciousness, her hatred towards the two young killers. What I do not like is the fact that she seems like she is not trying to be powerful or convincing she just somewhat lazily moves along in the film until the extraordinarily predictable and cheesy finale. However, I will give her credit for trying. Ryan Gosling is a fine actor and here he is acting more like a strung out, drug addicted rich boy I will admit that he pulls it off quite well as too be expected of him. But the material doesn't do him justice and there is also the fact that he seems out of place in the film, his character is not as smart or as elusive as Michael Pitt's, Richard Haywood(Gosling) is a smug, spoiled and ever so idiotic character, or as Michael Pitt's character calls him an ignoramus. Gosling is neither charming or tolerable he comes off as irritating and you just feel like you want to reach into the screen, pull him out and beat him senseless that's how I felt but I like the fact he tries and for that I tip my hat to him. Michael Pitt is a calm, cool and collective type of actor he uses his calm demeanor to strike a certain cord with the audience one that you find that you like and then at sometimes hate. Pitt works around the usual constraints of his type of role and becomes one of the better players in this by the numbers thriller. Pitt is exemplary and the interplay between Pitt and Bullock is priceless and worth seeing. The rest of the cast including Chris Penn, R.D. Call, Agnes Bruckner & Ben Chaplin deliver good supporting performances in a film that could have been more.
"Murder by Numbers" is an impressive set up mixed together with a not so impressive premises and plot that wavers between plausible and ridiculous and while times it seems like this film is going to give you the thriller you would expect from the premise it let's you down. Hard. "Murder by Numbers" is low on the expectations bar but there are moments that this film delivers what it promise, but that promise is short lived. It could have been great, it could have been something instead .of the cliché thriller that it is.