Combustible Celluloid
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With: John Cusack, Malin Akerman, Hannah Murray, Liam Cunningham, Lucy Griffiths, Bryan Dick, Richard Brake, Joey Ansah, Victor Gardener, Joe Montana
Written by: F. Scott Frazier
Directed by: Kasper Barfoed
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Running Time: 89
Date: 26/04/2013

The Numbers Station (2013)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Counting On Someone

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Numbers Station feels somewhat small-time, as if not all that much is at stake. Moreover, the cinematography is on the dark side and often difficult to see clearly. But these things also contribute toward it being a perfect kind of low-key late-night movie.

After a particularly awful job in which a girl needlessly died, secret agent and trained killer Emerson (John Cusack) gets a new assignment. He's to watch over Katherine (Malin Akerman), an expert who works in a "numbers station," transmitting code. One day, their station is breached, and a dangerous code has been sent. Only Katherine can stop it, but time is running short. They are locked in the bunker-like station, and the bad guys are drilling through. To make matters worse, Emerson gets the order to kill Katherine. Can he keep his head together long enough to save the day?

Cusack and Akerman help a great deal, taking their slightly underwritten characters and giving them an inner life; their banter reveals a bit about who they are (it also helps that Cusack played a tormented killer much like this one in Grosse Pointe Blank). Danish director Kasper Barfoed, who makes his English-language debut, makes fine use of the movie's tight constraints, painting it in concrete hallways, electrical panels, and glowing computer screens. Even if things are sometimes a bit hard to follow, it at least appears that the director and the characters know what's going on. It's easy to go with the flow.

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