Murder by Numbers Movie Poster Image

Murder by Numbers

Predictable thriller is definitely not for kids.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

What parents need to know


Graphic violence, characters killed.


Sexual references including one-night stand, gay relationship


Very strong language

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink, smoke, and use drugs

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has some graphic violence, including murders and domestic abuse. Characters use very strong language, drink, use drugs, and smoke. A character has an exploitive sexual encounter that is secretly videotaped. Cassie has sex with Sam but won't allow him to get close to her. There's a homosexual connection between Justin and Rick. The movie's tension and creepiness may upset some viewers.

What's the story?

In 1924 there was a murder was so shocking that it was called the crime of the century. What was chilling was the motive -- not money or passion but a cool arrogance that led two wealthy young men to try to prove they could get away with murder. That case is the inspiration for MURDER BY NUMBERS, which centers on Cassie (Sandra Bullock), a detective whose is tough around her colleagues but hides her sensitivity. Cassie has yet a new partner, Sam (Ben Chaplin) -- no one will stay with her long enough to work on a second case. At first, it seems as though clever police work has led Sam to the killer. And when Cassie insists that the solution is at the same time too neat and unanswered questions remain, no one wants to listen. There is something about the two high school kids -- rich, popular Rick (Ryan Gosling) and introverted, scholarly Justin (Michael Pitt) -- that bothers her.

Is it any good?


Murder by Numbers feels predictable, even manufactured, a sort of movie by numbers. It's easy to see why Bullock, who also produced, wanted to make this movie. She gets to play a grittier (and more wounded) character than her usual girl-next-door parts, and she does have a couple of showy scenes.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the role parental neglect might have played in creating a need in Rick and Justin to do something angry and destructive and the way that two people can spur each other on to do things that neither of them could have imagined alone. Why was becoming a detective a good or bad way for Cassie to respond to her past? Did the detectives lie to the suspects? Is that fair? Families may also want to talk about the famous "prisoner's dilemma", which we see here as the police question the two boys in different rooms so that each one feels pressure to confess first.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 19, 2002
DVD/Streaming release date:September 24, 2002
Cast:Ben Chaplin, Ryan Gosling, Sandra Bullock
Director:Barbet Schroeder
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:graphic violence, language, sex, and drug use

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 9 years old February 16, 2009

Murber by Numbers - Not Bad, If You're a Teen

I think this movie is fairly good. The story-line is enjoyable and Sandra Bullock shows that she really can be one kick-azz cop. However, there is some 'iffy' stuff which isn't good for anyone under age 17. The things which make this movie unsuitable to younger viewers are: Language, a person is shown getting murdered, a young woman tells a young man he needs to "get laid", a young man (About 18-19) is shown having sex with a girl (Age 17-18) in a video, you can see him moving up and down on top of her and then the video ends, also Sandra Bullock's character is shown coming on to a man in two parts of the film (One of which is cut off when they start to undress each other).
Adult Written bybls345 August 12, 2010

Never judge a book by it's cover

I loved it because these things are really happening in the real world, it's just not happening up,close and personal with those that didn't like this movie. It is something to think about and be aware of the signs of your children. Some of them are not as innocent as they look. I know I raised one who fooled a lot of people but she never fooled me. Parents should watch for signs in their teens lives. I don't mean my child did what they did on the movie but she was the innocent girl that everyone was so quick to judge my beliefs and took up for her because she was a caniver.