The Number 23 (2007) Review
I won’t beat around the bush on this one, The Number 23 is a very good movie with a very obvious twist ending that is likely to piss a lot of people off. Some critics have said that you can figure out the twist “twenty-three minutes in” and while this may be true, focusing only on the twist ending is kind of stupid to do, as the rest of the film (and even the explanation behind the twist) is very well done and shows that Joel Schumacher, despite fucking up the Batman franchise, is still as good a director now as when he directed The Lost Boys.
The story is as follows: animal control employee Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) is late to meet his wife on his birthday thanks to a final job involving a rather large dog named Ned. Upon finding his wife Agatha (Virginia Madsen) perusing a used book store, Walter is given a book entitled "The Number 23" by a mysterious author called “Topsy Kretts”. Soon, Walter becomes obsessed with the book and it’s lead character and narrator, called simply “Fingerling”, as well as the titular number. Secrets begin to unfold as Walter sinks into his crazed idea that the book too closely resembles his life and that the number is some sort of murderous curse.
My favorite aspect of this film are the scenes in which Walter Sparrow is reading the book and we see just what it is he’s reading. Actors are taken from the main storyline and plopped into the places of the “fictional” characters in a strange film noir sort of setting that is shot to look the way that one would envision the scene when reading a book—with the backgrounds continually moving around and a very vivid color scheme that makes it a real pleasure to sit back and watch.
The acting is all-around great, with the small exception of Logan Lerman (Evan Treborn, age 7, in The Butterfly Effect), who’s not as much a bad actor as his character is out of place. Basically, he’s just there to add a sidekick to Walter Sparrow while showing a few examples of how great a dad Walter is.
The only other complaint I really give past the twist is the number of coincidences used to hold together the plot. I can’t really give a good example without spoiling anything, suffice it to say that in the end not everything is welded together as well as it should be. The explanation behind the book holds up pretty well, but some things are just cop-outs that could have been handled with a little more grace.
Another note to make is that this is not a horror movie; it is a suspenseful thriller with some very tense moments (such as Agatha Sparrow searching a mental asylum that’s just downright creepy) and some jump scares that work for what they are. The mood more than makes up for most of the film’s shortcomings and is definitely the driving force behind the film’s bizarre feel.
Overall, with the exception of a cliché twist and a few bothersome coincidences, The Number 23 is a well-made, entertaining, and strangely suspenseful film that I would gladly watch again.
Scare Factor: 4/10
Extra Credit: 4
FINAL SCORE: 39/50