A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The cynical main character eventually learns to give up on his beliefs and training in order to open himself up to another person. Also, audiences can learn a little about "numbers stations" and the way they broadcasted coded transmissions during WWII (and, apparently still do).
Positive Role Models
Both of the main characters are serving their country, but they either perform deeds that they don't understand (like sending secret codes), or distasteful and illegal ones (like murder). Ultimately, they decide that their humanity is more important than their job.
Violence & Scariness
The main character is a trained killer, and he shoots and kills several men over the course of the film. Bad guys shoot back at him and blow up a car. In a fantasy sequence, the main character envisions killing the heroine of the movie. In real life, he fixes her wounds, pulls a hunk of shrapnel from her leg, and stitches her leg up. Blood is shown. There's a huge explosion at the climax.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some minor romantic tension between the two main characters; by the end, it appears that they're going to be a couple, but there's no kissing, innuendo, or sex of any kind. In an early scene, a man touches a woman's back, indicating that they're a couple.
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Language is fairly infrequent but includes about a dozen uses of "f--k" and a couple of uses of "s--t." "Bastard," "ass," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation) and "oh my God" are also used.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character claims that he "was a drunk" but that he gave up drinking. Nonetheless, he's seen drinking alone in a hotel room early in the film. A minor character also claims that he hasn't had a drink in three years but drinks a shot of scotch.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Numbers Station is a thriller in which one of the main characters is a trained killer who shoots and kills many people. But he also saves the other main character, performing emergency medical procedures on her (blood is shown). There are also some explosions, including a huge one during the film's climax. Language is fairly strong, with about a dozen uses of "f--k" and a few uses of "s--t." The two main characters have a subtle romantic tension, but there's no kissing, innuendo, or sex. A major character and a minor one both claim to have drinking problems, and both are seen drinking. On the plus side, teens may learn a little something about the "numbers stations" that were used to transmit coded information during WWII, and in the years since. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
THE NUMBERS STATION feels somewhat small-time, as if not all that much is at stake. Moreover, the cinematography is on the dark side and often difficult to see clearly. But these things also contribute toward it being a perfect kind of low-key, late-night movie. Cusack and Akerman help a great deal, taking their slightly underwritten characters and giving them an inner life; their banter reveals a bit about who they are (it also helps that Cusack played a tormented killer much like this one in Grosse Pointe Blank).
Danish director Kasper Barfoed, who makes his English-language debut here, makes fine use of the movie's tight constraints, painting it in concrete hallways, electrical panels, and glowing computer screens. Even if things are sometimes a bit hard to follow, it at least appears that the director and the characters know what's going on. It's easy to go with the flow.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.