Film Review: The Numbers Station

The Numbers Station
The Numbers Station has had such low visibility, I’m surprised it got made at all! Having to buy the DVD off Amazon wasn’t a good sign but undeterred I watched it with an open mind.

I found that it was bit like a low budget spy thriller. A James Bond film without the pizzazz, music or glamour. The thing that does set this apart is the dynamics between the two leads John Cusack and Malin Akerman.

John Cusack plays CIA black ops agent Emerson Kent. After a job goes wrong, he must prove his worth and is sent to guard a lady named Katherine (Akerman). He must protect her at all costs. The CIA use a numbers station to send and receive encrypted messages. But the station is already under attack and saving Katherine may not be possible!

Now this drama wasn’t so much by the book, it WAS the book. Gunshots, awful bosses, exploding cars and mindless violence were executed matter of factly. Katherine’s colleagues were attacked before she arrived and you saw their fate through flashbacks when she played the audio tapes.

This was where the film lost a lot of credibility. Would the CIA really employ three people to look after such a covert station? All of them afraid to use guns and any of the defences? Plus the old – ‘I’ll open the door to see what’s going on!’

The villains were cardboard, a big bad boss with huge bodyguards ready to die for him. So much time was spent at the bunker – I was glad when it finally moved along. Perhaps this was a budget constraint? But the chemistry between the leads made the time passable.

Cusack played the troubled agent who has a conscience well and you could see him struggling with some of the decisions he had to make. The dreams where he shoots Katherine was a little bizarre and frankly unnecessary so I’m assuming this was a plot filler? It could’ve been a shock tactic but it just confused things for me.

One minute he’s now a world class doctor and able to operate on her then he’s dreaming of shooting her???

Kent’s boss is a little too trigger happy and there’s no time spent in exploring why he was so happy to have everyone die and humans nothing more than loose ends to tidy up. There was a good story here and it was missed. What would make someone so cold?

Another problem was the darn bunker door! For a secret bunker, the front door was like a revolving door. In, out, in, out. All the cast appeared to be in nearly every part – upstairs, downstairs. Injured people able to get to the basement and shoot. There was a lot of weird action going on.

But the ending was good and frankly I’ve seen worse movies recently. I think a rework of the script is in order, a touch of glamour and humour and that might propel this movie higher and get accepted by bigger cinemas.

I’m giving 7/10, a satisfactory outing but hardly Oscar material.

Image reproduced from
Trailer reproduced from eonebenelux