"John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is an extraordinary teen hiding his true identity to elude a deadly enemy sent to destroy him. Living with his guardian (Timothy Olyphant), he moves from town to town in an attempt to stay anonymous. This being an American teen sci-fi movie, he also encounters his first love (Dianna Agron, TV's Glee), not to mention her resentful ex-boyfriend (Jake Abel). I Am Number Four is a new action movie directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) and produced by Michael Bay (Transformers), so it's pretty obvious what to expect then.
Based on a novel by Jobie Hughes and James Frey, the first ten minutes are disturbingly bland. The opening action sequence is lost beneath a blanket of darkness and ‘voiceover guy’ insists on revealing the entire plot, removing any sense of intrigue in the process. Within minutes we are familiar with the word Mogadorian and planet Lorien, it all sounds a bit daft really.
It would be easy to dismiss I Am Number Four as another Hollywood production by numbers, the characters are all stereotypes, the plot twists are worryingly predictable, and its not until the final act that I Am Number Four develops a welcome sense of humour. Fortunately, the whole ‘worryingly predictable’ thing works in the movies favour, because I Am Number Four plays out in exactly the way you would want it to.
The action sequences are fast and frantic, the bad guys are joyously evil, plot developments are introduced at a pitch-perfect pace and the whole thing comes together in an unashamedly OTT special effects finale. Number six makes a brief yet welcome appearance, the door is left open for a sequel and Bernie Kosar steals the show with his casually cool canine antics.
Who cares if half the cast look way too old? Who cares if the addition of Sam Goode (Callan McAuliffe) is one character arc too many (at least until a sequel puts his theories to test)? Who cares if John Smith’s powers lend more to lazy scriptwriting than genuine ability? Roswell used the same trick every week and it’s not as if that show got cancelled… what’s that you say?
I Am Number Four makes all the right moves in all the right places, and I didn’t even have to mention Glee's Dianna Agron (beyond beautiful). You can rip it apart if you want to, most of the film critics did, but I Am Number Four is unadulterated escapism of the highest order. Even if it does beg the question, ‘where the hell is Number five?"