Tagged: cusack

‘The Numbers Station’ Review

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The Numbers Station (2013)

Crack the code…

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By Jack Amor | May 2013

DIRECTOR: Kasper Barfoed

WRITER: F. Scott Frazier

Danish director Kasper Barfoed (The Candidate) takes the helm of this low-budget, trans-Atlantic spy thriller that exposes the intriguingly old fashioned world of code-breakers.

Following a traumatic experience out in the field, Black Ops Agent Emerson (John Cusack) is deployed to a quiet C.I.A. bunker in the English countryside to watch over Katherine (Malin Akerman), a brilliant code-breaker in charge of sending coded messages to agents across the world via radio waves.

Emerson’s new found scene of serenity is abruptly shattered however when the bunker is attacked by a group of rogue agents out to message kill codes for fifteen US secret agents. Locked inside the station, Katherine and Emerson must combine their respective mind and muscle if they’re to prevent a potential national disaster.

John Cusack embraces Emerson’s wounded agent with surprising conviction, his restrained performance bringing gravitas to first time screenwriter F. Scott Frazier’s otherwise by numbers characterisation.

Akerman, too, proves superior casting but her committed turn as brainiac Katherine is often undermined by a clumsy central relationship with her newly assigned protector; the notable lack of character development severely dampening the narrative’s more interesting twist when Emerson is ordered by his superiors to eliminate Katherine.

Barfoed does his best with limited locations and a suitably drab colour palette, while his juxtaposing of frantic puzzle solving with bursts of violence as the intruders close in provides some serviceable thrills.

Yet the enigmatic premise is ruefully wasted as Barfoed eventually succumbs to genre convention with a slew of derivative flashbacks, shootouts and explosions in a rudimentary attempt to inject the final act with requisite set-pieces.

While the two leads ensure The Numbers Station doesn’t completely collapse in on itself it remains a film that could, and should have offered so much more.

Script…………………………………………………………………………………………….

A few flashes of inspiration aside, F. Scott Frazier’s breakout script wastes an

interesting premise on predictable plotting, heavy handed themes and

shoddy characterisation.  2

Direction………………………………………………………………………………………..

Barfoed’s serviceable direction is elevated by the committed performances of

his two star leads.  2

Verdict…………………………………………………………………………………………..

More Saturday night distraction than multiplex attraction.  2