(On Cable TV, January 2014) I have a minor fondness for minimalist thrillers set in closed-off environments where characters race against the clock to find out important answers, and that’s essentially what The Numbers Station is: aside from one or two scenes of context and denouement, the entire plot works as a theatre piece as characters are stuck inside an isolated station, confronted with a mystery and besieged by enemies. John Cusack has another go at his stock “assassin grows a conscience” role, whereas Malin Akerman isn’t asked to do much as the requisite brainy damsel-in-distress. The plot is by-the-number, but the restricted scope makes it feel a bit more urgent, and while the film clearly takes place in an espionage fantasy-world where the CIA guns down people at will with impunity, it makes good use of stock elements. What’s less fortunate is that much of the computerized screens are nothing more than techno-gobbledygook, and that the limited sets do mean that the film repeats itself even within 90 minutes. Kasper Barfoed’s direction could have used a bit more energy, but the simplicity of the film does have the advantage of leanness. While The Numbers Station won’t find a huge audience, it’s an adequate film compared to other Direct-to-Video offerings, and one that is likely to pleasantly surprise a number of casual viewers.