I AM NUMBER FOUR is the latest sci-fi action movie from director D.J. Caruso (EAGLE EYE, DISTURBIA) and is produced by action veteran Michael Bay (TRANSFORMERS Series, THE ISLAND). The story is written for the screen by the sci-fi action duo of Alfred Gough and Miles Millar who you will most readily recognize for their joint work on TV’s SMALLVILLE which this film is almost immediately comparable. We have a young dashing teenager who happens to really be an alien on the run with his mentor/father figure trying to blend in while discovering all the awesome superpowers and abilities within him.
I AM NUMBER FOUR follows the fourth of nine aliens from a dead planet called Lorien and the three before him have been hunted and killed by an evil race known as the Mogadorians. He knows he will be hunted next and must run from the impending threat, try and find the remaining members of his race, and discover how to reach his full potential all while blending in as a high school student, falling in love for the first time, and meeting up with new characters that will help him on his journey. While the story may be somewhat predictable and the characters are often cliche and goofy, I had a blast with this one as a sci-fi fan and action movie fan alike!
The young up and comer Alex Pettyfer (ALEX RIDER: OPERATION STORMBREAKER, BEASTY) stars as John Smith, aka Number Four, as the alien teenager on the run while discovering his powers. I must admit that he seems a bit old (21) to be playing a fresh faced high schooler. His acting is a bit on the bland side at times and it appears he was ripped from an American Eagle Outfitters photo shoot and demanded to act. While he is not THAT bad, I admit it was hard to like him at times due to his pretty boy jock persona. You will know what I mean when he is introduced on a wave runner flipping waves, giving out high-fives, and gaining the attention of shallow beach babes who just want a look at his “hot bod”. Pettyfer does eventually shed this persona, and for the sake of enjoyment, I assumed he acted that way to fit in and he is really not that big a douche bag. Because trust me, by the end credits he does seem pretty bad ass!
The supporting cast here is worth mentioning especially the always amazing Timothy Olyphant (DEADWOOD, JUSTIFIED) as Number Four’s mentor Henri. Each of the nine remaining aliens were assigned a guardian to protect them until their true potentials were awakened. Olyphant does a great job as an over protective bad ass who is determined to protect Number Four at any cost. We also have Dianna Agron (TV’s GLEE) as Sarah, the main human love interest who is charming enough but also feels much too old (24!) to be a high schooler. Teresa Palmer (THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE) jumps on board as the fearless Number 6 who just loves to walk away from explosions without looking at them and then there is the awesome Kevin Durand (LOST, 3:10 TO YUMA) who stars as the main villain, an unnamed Mogadorian, who had way too much fun with the role which resulted in a main villain that was much more comical than intimidating. I really think Durand missed an opportunity here to be a more stoic and fearsome bad ass instead of the wise-cracking and curious alien who spent more time dishing out one-liners than kicking ass. I would also kick myself for not mentioning an amazing little beagle who has one specific shining moment that literally had the whole theatre clapping. I kid you not, the whole theatre, including myself, was clapping and totally loving the moment that sweet little beagle gave us.
While I admit the first half of the movie is chalk full of melodramatic teen angst, the second half more than makes up for it with some amazing action scenes, awe inspiring creature designs, and overall character development and interactions. The last half is so fun and action packed that I often had to drop my shoulders from the built up tension. The movie is beautifully shot and framed and the action is actually visible here rather than the shaky mess that most directors resort to these days. The creators definitely have a franchise in mind with this one and I for one will be at the theatre if a sequel does indeed get made.
I have a sneaking feeling that this will be one of those guilty pleasure movies that I like way more than most people. If you have the ability to ignore some cheesy dialogue, serious teen (?) angst, and a few actors that fall short of their potential, you will have a blast with I AM NUMBER FOUR. The action is spot on, the superpowers and creature effects rock, the characters fit their roles mostly well, and the pacing of the second half is simply awesome! The movie has its fair share of laughable moments, cheesy dialogue, and wacky characters, but if you check your brain at the door and just commit to the story for 2 hours you will have some good fun with I AM NUMBER FOUR!
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10