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The Number 23

2007-07-05 09:42
What it’s about:

Walther Sparrow (Jim Carrey) is given a mysterious second hand manuscript “The number 23” for his birthday, which appears to be partially based on his own life. It has extensive references to (surprise, surprise) the number 23, the significance of which begins haunting him. As he continues reading, the boundaries between fiction and reality begin to blur, and he realises that his wife and son may be in danger. Obsession takes over as he uncovers a murderous conspiracy.

What we thought of it:

Riding on the coattails of the conspiracy/prophecy craze sparked by The Da Vinci Code, The Number 23 is nothing more than a standard thriller with some conspiracy bells and whistles thrown into the mix. The whole numerology angle is so unnecessary to the thrust of the film that it could be replaced with anything – aliens, espionage, ghosts - and the plot would remain intact. That would be acceptable if the plot wasn’t so vague and poorly developed. As usual, we’ve seen all this before, and will doubtlessly see it again.

I can’t quite make my mind up about Jim Carrey, as to whether he lacks versatility as an actor, or I just associate him with lowbrow comedy. In his multiple roles in this film, he does a convincing goofy guy with a loving family, a less convincing film noir detective (looking like a meatier Nick Cave), and a rather questionable man on the brink of madness. Given how a good actor can breathe life into a dull script, Carrey only delivers half of the time. There are a few dramatic scenes that lack any weight whatsoever, including the “shocking” climax.

Virginia Madsen is nondescript as Sparrow’s wife, and it is only their son (Logan Lerman) that comes across as a credible human being. The rest of the cast might as well be cardboard cut-outs, as character development is not a strength of director Joel Schumacher, the luminary who brought us Batman and Robin and Batman Forever.

With a tedious and derivative storyline, and uninspired acting, what’s left to enjoy about The Number 23? Not the visuals, which are an artless mix of what looks like overproduced adverts in some places, and out-takes from Se7en in others. And not the score, a jarring mix of modern rock that detracts from the atmosphere.

On the whole it feels like a film made by marketers, without any care or attention to detail. Little hints and clues along the way are barely related to the story, and only serve to pad out the running time with numerous flashbacks. Even the pacing is slow, and any anticipation will probably be replaced by boredom 45 minutes in.

While not utterly horrendous, The Number 23 commits the cardinal sin of any movie by being boring. If you are interested in seeing any of the good thrillers that The Number 23 rips off, watch Pi, Memento, Se7en, The Shining, or Angel Heart.

- Ivan Sadler
This tedious conspiracy movie would have been much, much better if it were only 23 minutes long.


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Bjorn 2007-05-19 12:23 PM
Jim still Rocks! You have to give it up for Jim for taking up this serious role, its good that he is trying new things.
chanelly 2007-05-19 05:12 PM
not THAT bad You guys really took this movie apart. Althought the acting wasn't great nor the effects, i thought the story line was quite good. Althought it just aswell could have been aliens, the entire night after that movie 23 seemed to follow me everywhere...

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