Thursday, August 15, 2013

Netflix streaming tip: Cusack & Akerman in Barfoed/Frazier's THE NUMBERS STATION

As usual, out of seemingly nowhere, a whole bunch of new movies appear via Netflix's streaming capability, and you're left wondering, "Should I take a chance?" Where THE NUMBERS STATION is concerned, the answer is yes. TrustMovies thought that this film hadn't even received a theatrical release, but evidently, it had. How did he miss reading about it in The New York Times? What-ever: The film is now available via Netflix streaming.

Directed by Danish filmmaker Kasper Barfoed, with a screenplay from F. Scott Frazier, the movie -- one of those sort-of conspiracy thrillers in which a collusion of government-connected powerful is perfectly happy to murder any worker drones, as well as higher-levels underlings, should said person want to opt out of the organization, or should one of its secret projects goes amiss and therefore call for a kind of mini-mass murder to cover up everything. But it's all for the betterment of mankind, don'tcha know! The movie, a short 89 minutes, is fleet-footed and has two very good performance to ground it: John Cusack and Malin Ackerman, both of whom are working close to their capacity and so prove as good as they've been in some time.

Mr. Cusack, above, plays the higher level operative, a fellow who "offs" anyone who tries to "resign" from his department, while Ms. Ackerman (below) plays a young woman who is quite bright in the area of numbers and codes and so has been recruited for a job with this special "department."

When Cusack fails to murder the teenager daughter of one of his victims (and thus leave the slate totally clean), he is sent to what is clearly a kind of "Siberia" of these numbers stations, where he watches over the young woman who posts the "espionagy" sort of codes that emanate from that titular station. Supposedly these "numbers stations" do not exist. Our and other governments claim they have no part in them, but as so much of what our and other governments claim has been shown to be false, why not this, too?

Either way, the idea of the thing makes for a smart and bracing premise which Barfoed and Frazier pull off with enough aplomb to make it work for the short running time. In addition, the relationship between the characters played by Akerman and Cusack builds quite well into something believable and genuine, so that the movie's emotional pull equals its thrill bill.

If there's nothing novel or great here, there is also nothing of which to be ashamed, thriller-wise. The ambience, whether among co-workers or alone in the underground fortress, is creepy and unsettling; the pacing is tight and right; and as the body count rises, so does the suspense.

You can catch the film, from Image Entertainment, via Netflix Streaming and on DVD, and maybe elsewhere digitally, too.

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