ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Murder by Numbers (2002), R
Analysis Date: April 15, 2002
CAP Score: 32
CAP Influence Density: 1.61

MinMax: -72

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

MURDER BY NUMBERS (R) -- A testimony to watching crime shows.

Distributed by: Warner Brothers
Director(s): Barbet Schroeder
Producer(s): Sandra Bullock, Frank Capra III, Richard Crystal, Susan Hoffman, Barbet Schroeder, Jeffrey Stott
Cinematography/Camera: Luciano Tovoli
Music: Clint Mansell
Film Editing: Lee Percy
Casting: Howard Feuer
Art Direction: Tom Valentine

A couple high school guys decide to see if they can get away with murder (just like in the movies?) -- literally. One of the boys, Justin Pendleton (Michael Pitt) was just like the one in every high school who will do just about anything, literally anything in this case, to be accepted by the cool kids. A very smart young man, Justin planned whatever he did to the nth degree. The other guy, Richard Haywood (Ryan Gosling) was the cool dude Justin was doing whatever he wanted just to be pals with him. And, of course, Richard used Justin's sick servitude to manipulate him to the nth degree. Who got the bright idea I don't know, but the idea of killing someone just to see if they could get away with it surfaced somehow. Though Justin and Richard seem to share a homosexual bond, there was no mention nor clear-cut expression of homosexuality noted. No point loss was assigned to the impression of the homosexual attraction.

After going through procedure quality precision to select their first victim, the boys found a woman by herself leaving a store. The boys took the woman to a specially prepared holding room where they bound and gagged her and for some reason left her there for a long time before returning and murdering her ... with a hammer I think it was. The boys took her body to a remote river bank, added a few injuries and amputated her right ring finger to make it look like robbery murder. The police force were quite happy with the obvious clues and treated as precisely that. But Cassie Mayweather (Sandra Bullock) didn't buy it.

Mayweather is a solitary detective with a sorted past of her own. She is dedicated to investigating rape and murder cases. For a reason. She had been stabbed 17 times by her ex husband and has developed an attitude that is most difficult for her coworkers to tolerate. But Mayweather was right. And she was not going to let anybody tell her differently, even the police Captain nearly fired her. Mayweather's new partner, a new kid on the block, Sam Kennedy (Ben Chaplin) was quite willing to go along with the consensus of the other detectives and rule it a robbery murder. But being the compromising guy he was, he did what he could to support his new partner.

Justin and Richard had gone to great lengths to throw misleading clues into the stew. They had selected a fall guy from one of the high school custodial staff members and obtained fibers from his carpet and placed them on the victim's body. They even murdered him to make it look like grief suicide. The level of detail the boys, rather the level of detail Justin exercised rivaled even Sherlock and Holmes mysteries. A smart kid indeed. He thought of everything as if he had seen every murder mystery there was to see and watched for all the signals that led the investigators to their conclusions. A testimony to watching crime shows - they show the criminals how to not get caught.

The level of detail in this surrealistic teenage murder escapade is intricate and highly woven to the characters and the progression of events -- fine piece of cinematic artwork if it were not for the saturation of ignominy. Note that art does not equal sin and sin does not equal art, but when art uses sin it becomes sin. This movie is full of it: drug dealing and consumption, teen intercourse [1Cor. 7:2, Rev. 21:8], porn sounds and Satanic music with Satanic gesture [James 1:21], murder by gunfire [Ps. 11:5], imagery of double suicide and threatening it [Exod. 20:13], stabbing a dead body, sadistic torture, sadism, attempted murder by choking and many more examples of evil behavior [Matt. 13:41]. Please carefully consider the listing in the Findings/Scoring section before you contemplate letting your kids see this one.

"This is an R-rated movie! Great Scott! Who on earth would let their kids watch it!?" I see a lot of this in email. "Kids" includes at-home teens, too. And only 16% of a survey population in New Hampshire and Vermont middle schools (5th to 8th grade, 90% under 14) are completely restricted from watching R-rated movies. Though this service is targeted at Christian parents and grandparents who ostensibly are the most attentive to keeping their kids out of R-rated movies, and since about 80% of America claims to be Christian or at lest believe in God, not all Christian parents and grandparents guard the entertainment diet of their children. Also, this service is useful to non-Christians as well. They, too, need to know what we find.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • 1Cor. 7:2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
  • Rev. 21:8 But the [unforgiven] cowardly [deilos {di-los'}; timid, fearful], the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
  • James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
  • Ps. 11:5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. [The person in "his soul hateth" is the violent one, not God. God hates no one. "Soul", according to Strong's, is appetite, heart, mind, desire, emotion, passion, i.e., "his heart/mind hates" or "he who loves violence has an appetite for hating and desire to hate."]
  • Exod. 20:13 You shall not murder. [Which includes murder of the self.]
  • Matt. 13:41 The Son of Man [Jesus] will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

    *******Food for Thought*******
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    Murder by Numbers (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • firearm threats, some to the head
  • dead body
  • murder victims, graphic, repeatedly
  • amputation
  • assault, repeatedly, some graphic
  • graphic injuries
  • breaking and entering
  • stabbing a dead body
  • two sitting with guns to their heads
  • gunfire to kill
  • gunfire injury
  • attempted murder
  • sadism
  • attempted murder by choking
  • death by fall, graphic
  • kidnapping, repeatedly
  • sadistic torture

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 19 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • nine uses of the most foul of the foul words
  • driving without consideration of the safety and property of others
  • teen arrogance against the law, repeatedly
  • teens sneaking out
  • teen arrogance against parent
  • lies
  • threatening murder/suicide
  • feigning suicide

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • sexual suggestion in high school
  • sex talk, repeatedly
  • nude art
  • high school girl admitting to posing for nude art
  • open face kissing
  • inappropriate touch, repeatedly
  • male and female in bed for sex
  • intercourse (unseen)
  • porn sounds
  • teen intercourse

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • consumption of illegal drugs, repeatedly
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • drug dealing
  • booze

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • Satanic music
  • mano conuto, repeatedly

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • imagery of double suicide with guns against the victims' heads
  • murder by gunfire
  • murder

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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