Dave’s 2-Word Review:
Any time an action thriller has something to do with numbers, you typically imagine there has to be some kind of tacky superstition thing going on, and truthfully there often is. This time, it’s less of a superstition thing than it is a conspiracy theory for John Cusack’s latest flick, The Numbers Station. Before we delve too deeply into the plot of the film, you need to first understand what the foundation is – a secret government radio station that has continually repeated a string of numbers to agents in the field to carry out tasks – that the government denies any connection, but the numbers can still be heard today. Basically, this is what the film tells you right off hand, and it sounds like a firm foundation, and it is…it’s what they do with it where the problem lies.
To give you a brief view on how the film plays out, imagine an ex-spy (John Cusack) who is sent on “numbers station” duty with a new intern by the name of Katherine (Malin Akerman). Her job is to simply read the numbers sent to her and enjoy her fruitful income, not really knowing what the numbers mean. Well, the station is always run by a male and a female, so when these two leave, two others come in. Only, when they return to the station, they are ambushed by foreigners and forced to take cover inside. The foreigners want access to the station, and want these people to say a string of numbers for them, for some unknown reason. Emerson and Katherine must sit it out and wait for help to come, but will they have enough time?
It seems so obvious about what this film should be, but for whatever reason…isn’t. It is working off of a pretty interesting and unique concept – a radio station that broadcasts numbers for whatever reason. You would think that most people watching this would love to hear the filmmaker’s idea on what the numbers mean, and how to interpret them…maybe even interpret them at home, listening to the hidden stations. It seems incredibly logical that the direction of the film would be geared towards exposing a deep secret…but it turns out to instead to be a typical action movie with little to no substance. It acts as if it expects you to already know how to interpret the numbers, and if you couldn’t…accept the fact that you never will. That’s boring!
To expand on the wasted potential, John Cusack seemed like the perfect actor for what the movie should have been. That may be stating that he is a bit typecast and has a predictable behavior when it comes to picking roles, but that’s okay sometimes. He picked a role this time that just didn’t seem to fit him whatsoever. First of all, there was no character development worth mentioning, you simply know nothing about him. Then his emotions kept changing, it’s like he feels so bad to be partially responsible for the death of an innocent one second, but goes around mentally aiming a gun at random people, killing them in his head the next. There was no consistency with him, and you just end up wishing you had more answers than what you’re given.
When you get disappointed while watching a film, watching the rest of it may become a tedious task…even if the movie isn’t that long. You know by the first ten to fifteen minutes that the movie won’t play out exactly like you would have initially liked it to. Now for some, that may not be a big deal, and are simply watching with no real expectations. For others, you may be getting tired with the same old when it comes to action films, and when a unique concept rolls around, like in The Numbers Station, you are going to feel really disappointed when they throw away that potential.
It all depends on who you are, and what you care about when it comes to film. Expecting too much from this film will leave you upset, but just watching it to watch it may work out better for you. So…ask yourself what you like when it comes to film.
The Numbers Station came to Blu-Ray and DVD on May 28!