The Numbers Station (Blu-ray Review)

numbers-stationAfter his latest mission goes disastrously wrong, veteran CIA black ops agent Emerson Kent (John Cusack) is given one last chance to prove he still has what it takes to do his job. His new assignment: guarding Katherine (Malin Akerman), a code operator at a top-secret remote CIA “Numbers Station” where encrypted messages are sent and received. When an elite team of heavily armed assailants lays siege to the station, Emerson and Katherine suddenly find themselves in a life-or-death struggle against an unknown enemy. With the station compromised and innocent lives at stake, they must stop the deadly plot before it’s too late.


number 2


Emerson Kent (John Cusack) is a CIA black ops agent who has been trained to kill as instructed.  An assignment goes wrong and he hesitates in killing a young woman caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This screw up leaves his future in question and eventually leads to a new assignment.  Emerson is sent to guard a code operator at a numbers station.  Numbers stations untraceably broadcast a series of codes to agents in the field.  Numbers stations have been active for decades and are vital to CIA operations.

Emerson and operator Katherine (Malin Akerman) are a team that lock themselves in the numbers station bunker and rotate time off with another pair.   Katherine jokes about what Emerson would do if she didn’t appear at the train one day but he doesn’t find such hypothetical situations amusing.  He takes his job very seriously and will protect his operator at all costs.

One shift, Kate and Emerson find that the previous shift has been attacked.  At first, they are unable to find anyone and inside.  Soon they locate a hand but are unsure who it belongs to.  Video surveillance has been destroyed and the audio files are all they have to go on.  They quickly reconstruct the chain of events.

Although the code has never been compromised, someone has figured out how to send out false codes from their location.  These codes are orders to murder a series of men whose death will cripple the CIA.  Katherine has figured out how to cancel the fraudulent codes and Emerson must keep her alive while she broadcasts the cancellations.

Looking at the cover art for The Numbers Station I figured that this would be an average (at best)  film that would be less interesting than 2012 or Con Air (two films I can’t claim are gems but I do happen to love).  I didn’t love The Numbers Station but it had nothing to do with the cast.  The script and the story just failed to fully develop into any real suspense.  From the very beginning I found myself guessing correctly exactly where the film was headed.  Although predictable, I did enjoy the film I just doubt that I’ll watch it a second time.

John Cusack is one of my favorite actors and he’s done a lot of movies that I absolutely love, like Grosse Pointe Blank and Better Off Dead.   In between gems like those – he’s done a lot of mediocre work to pay the bills.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen John Cusack in a new movie so my first fear was that he’d be old and out of shape.  He does look a little older but he still looks good and he’s believable in this film as the CIA agent with a heart.  Unfortunately, if I had to rate this movie compared to the rest of his career, this movie this would be low on the list.  Malin Akerman is also well cast although she is one of my least favorite actresses.  I can’t think of a pair of actors that would have made this material any more interesting.


The Numbers Station is presented on Blu ray in 1080p high definition with a widescreen 2.40:1 ratio.  Nothing about the video presentation is exceptional but it’s adequate for this film.  The image quality is good inside the dark bunker as well as in outdoor sunlight scenes.  Skin tones are consistent and appropriate and explosions and fire appear authentic.


The Numbers Station’s DTS-HD Master Audio presentation is sufficient, but again not outstanding.  The dialogue is even and intelligible throughout.   Gun fire is realistic and volume does not need adjusting for shouting or whispers.


There is only one special feature and it contains John Cusack looking worse than I’ve ever seen.  They clearly taped that interview after a very long day!

  • The Making of the Numbers Station – This featurette contains interviews with cast and crew and behind the scenes footage.


The Numbers Station is an enjoyable enough movie.  It starts John Cusack and that’s good enough for me.  It is extremely predictable and fails to generate much genuine suspense.  Both John Cusack and Malin Akerman are believable in their roles.  There are very few characters in the film at all and the story just didn’t develop into the nail-biter it could have been.  Watching the special feature, the actors explain that it’s meant to be a character study and not an action flick, which is too bad because  I think I would have preferred an action flick.  What they did, they did well, but it just needed more.    I wish the story had further developed the idea that the numbers operator had no idea what she was doing for the CIA.  I wish it had been a truly suspenseful experience.

Order your copy today!



Comments are currently closed.