The Numbers Station - Online Review

'feels like a distinctly asinine throwback to awful 1990s Action Thrillers, of which Cusack was never really a part'

John Cusack's extensive and tumultuous back catalogue has its fair share of oddities. Shanghai, which remains unreleased in the US, despite its $50 million budget, is a recent example but there's also a litany of fairly average genre rubbish to add to critically acclaimed outings like High Fidelity or the occasional art house indulgence such as Being John Malkovich.

The Numbers Station fits into this collection about as uncomfortably as a pair of too-tight boxer shorts. As Emerson, Cusack is essentially playing a humourless version of his Grosse Pointe Blank character, before he left government employment and become acerbic. The problem? Grosse Pointe Blank was sixteen years ago and Cusack, who never had great action chops to begin with, fits the role of hard case anti-hero even less well than the collection of ageing past-its indulging themselves in The Expendables series.

Of course, had Kasper Barfoed's film been any good, the suitability or otherwise of Cusack to do this sort of thing potentially might have mattered less. Stuck in a bunker with codesmith Catherine (Malin Akerman) though, Cusack and Barfoed have nowhere to go, left at the mercy of F. Scott Frazier's script which offers the already pretty poor Akerman lines like, 'Emerson... lie to a girl, would you.'

Meanwhile, Richard Brake's bad guy gets very short shrift indeed and Paul Leonard-Morgan's music does its best to sound like a Brosnan-era Bond score. The whole thing feels like a distinctly asinine throwback to awful 1990s Action Thrillers, of which Cusack was never really a part.

A situation where The Numbers Station could have worked arises at the beginning of the final third, as Akerman and Cusack find a list of fifteen things that could have quite easily formed the basis for a TV series; Catherine's trapped codie forced to help Cusack's disenfranchised spook do a bit of good. In film form though, this is ninety-minutes of very below average, low-rent plotless garbage, of interest probably only to Cusack completists and fans of bad nineties cinema.




The Numbers Station is released on demand, including iTunes, on Monday 27th May.

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