An ordinary family man receives a book that seems to strangely echo his own life, leading to his descent into obsession and paranoia.
The Number 23 is yet another of those twist-based psychological thrillers of the type upon which M. Night Shyamalan made his name. Fans of the genre will find a lot of familiar ingredients in the plot as every twist and turn lumbers onto screen directly on cue, while Joel Schumacher exercises his usual visual overkill and all round lack of subtlety. To be fair, the story maintained my interest as long as I was entertaining myself by guessing the “big twist”, but the final revelation is a disappointment and certainly would not stand up to repeated viewing.
The Number 23 is not the worst example of the genre and fans of Stephen King may find some amusement in its rather adolescent Twilight Zone style musings on destiny versus free will, but its clumsy visual trappings and naive plotting means that it looks terribly dated even now.