For those who left school thinking that Pythagoras' Theorem would never come in handy, think again. At the very least, trying to figure out the sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle provides a welcome distraction from the totally nullifying experience of watching The Oxford Murders. Starring as hotshot maths professor Arthur Seldom, John Hurt sleepwalks his way through this murder mystery, joining the dots with no margin for surprise.
Elijah Wood is the sounding board for his ideas as visiting grad student Martin. He so idolises Professor Seldom that when his landlady is killed, causing their paths to cross, Martin can hardly contain his excitement. Needless to say, Martin is tough to like. And as the bodies slowly pile up (oh, so slowly...), and they engage in deeper discussions of mathematical codes and 'logic series', both characters become increasingly remote and profoundly uninteresting.
"MIND-NUMBING SERIES OF LECTURES"
A love triangle involving a naughty nurse is the only genuinely chilling aspect of the story. But for all the wrong reasons: Leonor Watling is as lifeless as the cadavers she wheels down to the morgue. Spanish writer-director Alex de la Iglesia (who adapted the novel by compatriot Jorge Guerricaechevarria) has no feel for suspense either. The murders are simply chalk marks on a blackboard with no build-up and little fallout. He throws in a couple of obvious red herrings, which instead of adding to the intrigue only drag out this mind-numbing series of lectures. Remarkably, as the conclusion draws nearer, the pace actually slows. The numbers may add up, but evidently Iglesia hasn't worked out the formula to a successful thriller.
The Oxford Murders is out in the UK on 25th April 2008.