Number Crunching Carrey
For a thriller to work it must hook me, it must deliver something which grabs my attention and keeps it till the end. Now "The Number 23" hooked me when it brought to the fore the significance of the number 23 but it soon lost me because it was too far fetched in showing connections to the mysterious number. It is because of that, because 4 + 8 + 11 = 23 and reversed that number is 32, wow, it lost me because it was too coincidental and made too much of it in an unsubtle way. And in the end, without giving a lot way the number 23, well it is not as important as it first seems.
When animal control operative Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey - Fun with Dick and Jane) is bitten by a dog he is late to pick up his wife Agatha (Virginia Madsen - Sideways) who whilst waiting pops into a 2nd hand book shop and comes across an old dog leaved book called "The Number 23" which she gets for Walter. As soon as Walter starts reading he becomes obsessed as not only does the book some how connect to his life but he keeps on finding the number 23 cropping up everywhere. Soon this obsession takes over Walter's life as he tries to discover who wrote the book leading him into an increasing state of paranoia.
I actually think "The Number 23" could have been a good movie but it has the wrong people involved. Take Jim Carrey who I like when he does serious but here as Walter he has a character which initially is uneasily a little comical. It is wrong but then when it comes to Walter's initial obsession with the book and the number 23 he gets Walter's curiosity just right yet then when full on paranoia takes hold Carrey just doesn't deliver it. At the same time Virginia Madsen as his wife Agatha is criminally underused and is little more than supportive, understanding wife.
But the actors are not the only thing wrong and director Joel Schumacher throws in some stylish flourishes which whilst are stand alone good in the end up spoiling any flow that he gets going. And that is the next issues because "The Number 23" doesn't have a smooth flow, there is no consistent pacing or rhythm which makes it feel bitty. No offence to Schumacher but to me "The Number 23" was screaming out for a director like Fincher or Mangold who could embrace the intrigue of the script rather than trying to visualize it.
And that leads me to what for me is my biggest problem and all the nonsense built around the number 23. Now this nonsense is important because we have to be made aware of the magical properties of the number 23, its historic significance and so on. But what we get in "The Number 23" is not only less than subtle but far too coincidental as we have numbers adding up to 23 but only if you add them in a certain way. Now on one level this may be to highlight Walter's growing paranoia and infatuation with 23 but it does so in such an unsubtle manner that it makes it laughable.
All of which is a shame because "The Number 23" has a good movie in there and one which with its twist will appeal to those who have not watched a lot of thrillers. What I mean is that for those who know there thrillers will guess the twist before it comes but it is still a good twist.
What this all boils down to is that "The Number 23" will entertain some, it has that twist which some audiences love. But for me it failed to hook me or at least keep me hooked with its less than subtle infatuation with the number 23.