Directed by Kasper Barfoed
Available On Demand and Download from 27th May 2013
UK DVD release 1st July 2013
Black ops agent Emerson (John Cusack) is taken in for psychological evaluation after crumbling with a guilty conscience during his last mission. Deeming him unfit for his usual role as a field agent, Emerson is instructed with a simpler task to protect a secret broadcast station and Katherine (Malin Akerman), the broadcaster situated there, until he’s fit, mentally, to continue his role as a field operative.
What is relatively a menial task soon turns into a life-and-death situation as the station comes under attack from an unknown enemy, eager to stop broadcaster Katherine once and for all.
Directed by Kasper Barfoed, The Numbers Station is quite a simple espionage thriller that is well layered with many twists and turns to keep the viewer guessing. However, there’s very little going on besides this leaving the viewer a bit empty and dare I say, bored, during the vast majority of the film. I like Malin Akerman as an actress but her character hasn’t much to work with here and John Cusack’s character Emerson is just as monotonous. Even the bad guys’ run is rather brief, with storylines and twists which could have amounted to much more. By the end of the film, the viewer’s last shred of hope is demolished as all the excitement just fizzles out to nothing. This is a real shame as the film had promise and does show great potential at times, especially with its constant guessing game. It’s sad that ultimately, it just fails to deliver.
Holed up in a secure broadcasting station announcing numbers via radio waves to field agents, Katherine is slightly oblivious to what her work really entails but does seem more clued up at times than Emerson. The two make quite an average team, but a lack of a decent script and Emerson’s secretive character doesn’t allow for much chemisitry to ensue. Being essentially trapped inside the station with limited assets means there’s very little to interact with, either.
The terrific Richard Brake (Outpost) makes an appearance as one of the film’s bad guys but his appearance is pretty short lived as we see his intense presence through a series of flashbacks via audio recordings. Of course, others star in the film, but none quite have his calm yet aggressive attitude which creates such a tense atmosphere.
The Numbers Station is the debut screenplay for writer F. Scott Frazier and he’s clearly shown potential with his knack for twists and turns but his character development and scripts need some work. He’s currently working his second screenplay Autobahn starring Amber Heard and Zac Efron which sees a return to the thriller genre, albeit more of the action variety. I would certainly check out more of his work, it’s just unfortunate that this film doesn’t quite hit the spot. If nothing else, The Number Station serves as a learning curve and any experience is good experience to learn from, but as entertainment value, you might be left a bit dissatisfied.