The Number 23 Joel Schumacher

The harmless existence of the number 23 has been the cause of many sleepless nights. Conspiracy theories involving the number have become an obsession, where circumstances — no matter how illogical — somehow break down into relation with this silly numerical shit-disturber.

While not the first choice for many to visualise a creepy thriller based on this "phenomenon,” at least inconsistent blockbuster filmmaker Schumacher had some interesting coincidences to help market the film: it’s film number 23 for the Schu, his name plus Jim Carrey equals 23 letters, as does Carrey and co-star Virginia Madsen, and wait for it, two divided by three is, yep, you guessed it, .666. That means there is plenty of evil to go around in this shocker.

Carrey stars as Walter Sparrow, a fairly content animal control officer who’s married to caterer Agatha (Madsen) with a teenaged son Robin (Logan Lerman). When a "nasty, evil dog” named Ned forces him to be late for his birthday party, fate takes over and leads Walter to a book titled The Number 23. Approaching it harmlessly, he becomes immersed in the book and quickly links it to his childhood memories, as well as his adult characteristics. Soon Walter not only becomes obsessed with the novel’s character, Fingerling, and an enigmatic case the fictional detective investigates, he also begins correlating the number with his life, which leads to discovers that may or may not affect the lives of those around him.

It’s hard to shake the feeling that The Number 23 is yet another vehicle for Carrey to prove himself in yet another genre. The dark edge to this film doesn’t hinder him one bit; he’s the ideal actor for this film, using his comic flair, sometimes inadvertently, to add lightness to the constant darkness. However, the film’s desperate attempts to turn this into a mind-fucking psychological thriller spoil any hope for Carrey to chalk this up as another box office victory.

Sure, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the concept — a number, of all things, that can ruin someone’s life and lead to murder has the makings of a good suspense thriller — but Schumacher gets too elaborate in his split attempt to make both a thriller and a noir flick, and with the never-ending twists and turns, as well as suspects, it becomes exhausting.

In the end, when the truth shows its face in what could have been a decent conclusion, it’s your indifference to it all that you’ll remember, not the film’s more engaging moments..

(Alliance Atlantis)