DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Number 23 - review

The Number 23 (15)
Dir. Joel Schumacher

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

I stepped out of the cinema at 23:23pm, there was a crazy look on the face of my friends who’d just witnessed a dark trip into insanity with me. Were the numbers trying to tell me something? Who’d have thought that it would lead to the sorts of unhinged freakiness and dubious behaviour that followed?
But enough about my 36th Birthday celebrations, this is a tale of psychotic madness brought on by an obsession with the number 23. Jim Carey stars as Walter Sparrow and brings his unique brand of manic energy to this trashy but fun thriller from Joel ‘Lost Boys’ Schumacher.
The Number 23 isn’t deep – if it were a sudoku it would be rated ‘mild’, so if you’re looking for a disturbing mathematical mind bender, perhaps you should stick with something like Darren Aronofsky’s excellent ‘Pi’. If however you’re in the mood for decently filmed and nicely acted schlock of the ‘will he / won’t be driven to murder’ type then look no further.
Having seen some ‘ho hum’ reaction to this film I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it half as much as I did. Virginia Madsen was just amazing, giving hope to 46 year old women everywhere by sizzling in the duel roles of Carrey’s wife Agatha Sparrow and the fantasist sex toy Fabrizia. The plot might be a checklist of cinematic liberties but there is an undeniably enjoyable kookiness in the central conceit – Agatha buys a novel called ‘The Number 23’ for her husband, little suspecting that it will utterly consume him. The book then threatens to wreck their lives as Sparrow comes to believe that he is somehow linked to the plot and that the number 23 itself is ‘out to get him’.
What adds to the enjoyment are some excellent pulpy flashbacks taken from the book, played out in a hard-boiled detective noir style that reminded me of Sin City. These fantasy sequences where Carrey is the lead character from the book, a murderous potential alter ego named ‘Fingerling’, are welcome because they really add to the overall creeping sense of danger.
One thing is for sure – the filmmakers pack in just about every conceivable contrivance to get the number 23 into the plot even quoting the Good Book (Numbers 32 verse 23 no less)…
It might all end with a bit of a farcically overblown plot twist but overall this a fun ride that doesn’t disappoint.

Darkmatters rating system (out of 23):
Action 2+1+2 - loved the classy noir bits
Laughs 46/2 – very nice humour before the horror
Horror 23 – no very much but at least one quality 'jump'
Babes 23x2 – Virginia Madsen, still would!!
Overall 23 (Nicely manufactured pulp thrills)

Darkmatters: H O M E
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