The Numbers Station (Blu-ray)

May 28, 2013 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I suppose it means I’m getting old when I can remember a star in the 80’s who’s now pushing 50.  That star in question is John Cusack, someone who has been in several movies that I’ve really enjoyed and not too many that I’ve really disliked.  But he’s not the star he used to be and even for a once “A” list star, the roles are no doubt slowing down.  Though I doubt Mr. Cusack is hurting financially, I do have to question his reasoning for taking the role in The Numbers Station.  It might be a bit different for his co-star, Malin Akerman, a younger star on the rise who seized the opportunity to work with a modern Hollywood “legend” (that might be giving John Cusack a bit too much credit).  Still, what’s done is done and what we’re left with is The Numbers Station, a semi-engaging thriller, yet as predictable as the turning of the Earth.  Here’s what to expect.

Cusack plays Emerson, a black ops agent whose job is to complete the mission at any cost.  Usually this means pulling the trigger and his job is done.  However, a recent bout with scruples, he receives an unfavorable psych evaluation and is sent on a mission so he can gather his thoughts.  The mission?  He’s to guard a remote outpost with a civilian, Katherine (Malin Akerman) who sends out encrypted messages to agents in the field.  Easy, right?  Everything is going swimmingly until the station is compromised, the other half of the team killed and now Katherine and Emerson are next.  Of course if they’re picked off, we wouldn’t have a movie and it’s now up to Emerson to fall back on his training, get them both out alive and kill the bad guys along the way.  We have to ask ourselves this: will he do it?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always been a fan of John Cusack.  But if you want to see him play a gun-wielding hit man with a conscience, then check out Grosse Point Blank, a much better and more entertaining film.  There’s nothing really wrong with The Numbers Station other than the fact that it’s totally predictable and it plays to every stereotype imaginable.  Supposedly the team behind this film are the same ones behind Daybreakers, a vampire film that I really enjoyed.  So I was pretty excited to see what this one had to offer.  I’ve no doubt that these types of places exist, though I doubt the civilians who crack code look like Malin Akerman.  I could be mistaken, though.

Video: How does it look?

The Numbers Station comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that’s certainly indicative of a new to Blu-ray film.  I have no idea if this movie was even in theaters and if it was, I don’t remember it.  Nevertheless the visuals are crisp and clear, rock solid and embody most everything that a new to Blu-ray film does.  The palette of the film is very dark, inside the station reminded me of an episode of 24 with the digital displays and computers surrounding the room.  Contrast is strong as are the black levels.  If there was any doubt that John Cusack is aging, one only needs to look at this film to see the forehead creases, dark circles under his eyes and even some grey hair.  Hey, it happens to us all.  Visually it’s a very strong image and viewers shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Audio: How does it sound?

I’m always amazed how good a movie can sound despite its budget.  I don’t know the exact budget of this film, but by listening to the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack you’d think that it was a summer blockbuster.  It’s not, by the way.  Vocals sound crisp and clear, even with Cusack’s notorious dialogue which he tends to mumble (hey, it’s worked for him).  Plenty of gunshots ensue, each sounding pretty darn good and engaging the surrounds which add some more depth to the mix.  I won’t give away the entire plot, but take a look at the box art and I’m sure you can tell what you’re in for.  A very strong mix here left me with nothing really to complain about.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The only supplement is a standard 15 minute EPK on the “Making of…” this film.  We’ve seen it all before, the director, producers and actors all say how the script was amazing and Cusack “had to take” the part, etc.  It doesn’t offer a lot of insight on the film other than the filming locations.

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