I am Number Four
I Am Number Four is based off of a Sci-Fi thriller of the same name, and came out early last year. After having the movie recommended to me, I decided to check it out. The premise caught my fancy, story line looked interesting, and I liked the tone of the trailer.
The story starts out with Number Four, now John Smith, who isn’t a typical teen, not even on his home planet of Lorien. He is one of nine legacies who were preserved by being sent to earth with their protectors, an effort to evade the Mogadorians who seek to kill them. Now, why do the Mogodarian’s want to kill these poor, innocent kids?
The Mogadorians want what every sci-fi villain wants. World domination. However, their version has a twist. Decimation. They’ve travelled the galaxy seeking to lay waste to every colonization they can find. Lorien was their last victim; Earth is next. The only thing that stands in their way is the 9 legacies scattered across the globe. Together, they have enough power to stand against the Mogadorians.
Pursuit is unavoidable, so what did the Lorien families do? Place a “spell”, of sorts, on the kids. They must be killed in number order (mentioned, but never fully expounded in the movie, I only know this from the book research I did). Inconvenient for the Mogadorians, but a time buyer for the nine.
John and Henry (John’s protector) are first alerted to the presence of the Mogadorian’s when John is nine. A scar burned in the flesh of his leg appears, letting them know that number one has been killed. John and Henry leave everything and take on new identities. This happens again when John is twelve, and once again in high school. John is number four. He’s next.
This is how our movie opens, and from here the pace picks up drastically. As our Lorien duo try to stay one step ahead of death, they arrive at a quaint little town called Paradise, where Henry equips the house for World War Three and John decided to try and pick up the pieces of his life, again.
Henry wants John to lay low, blend in. That’s easier said than done in a high school setting. John downplays his strengths and abilities to the high school jocks who come to “feel him out”, but makes the mistake of becoming interested in the prince jock’s ex.
To make matters worse, John starts going through hormonal changes, i.e. developing legacies. New powers sound well and good, except for the fact that these changes are inconveniently timed. Instead of typical voice changes, John has to learn to harness his mind wielding powers.
John quickly comes to love the people of the quaint little town of Paradise, deciding that this is the kind of people he wants to make his home with. Sarah’s family really hit this home to him; laughing over dinner, confiscating all cells, and conversing like they’ve know each other their whole lives. Something he’s not very familiar with. He’s never known his own family and never lived anywhere long enough to have roots.
But all of this loveliness is quickly shattered, and things spiral out of control. However, I’m not going to spoil the movie for you.
The themes of this movie are pretty evident. We must sacrifice for the things we love and believe in. Henry reminds John of this during one of their testosterone tussles. Countless Loriens sacrificed themselves to ensure that the nine would survive. Henry expects him to push to his full potential and give up young love for a greater good. John informs Henry that he’s not his father. The protector’s response? “No, he’s dead. For you.”
While John vexes under this burden place upon him, he does come to accept it in the end. He decides that Earth is worth saving, even if he has to leave Sarah(love interest) behind for a time.
While the movie is fun, lively, action packed, and has a new twist to the “Aliens save the world” theme, I Am Number Four does have issues.
Language is a big one. Sam, John’s ancient astronaut believing friend, has a foul mouth and uses way too many uses of langue to express his feelings for the world and the people in it. I stopped counting after 6 uses of the s word, and there were d, a, h, and b words mixed in there as well. There were also a handful of misuses of the Lord’s name.
Exposed flesh isn’t a huge issue in this movie. We have a couple of shots where John’s shirtless, but they are very short and very few between. Some cleavage is visible at times, but very tame for a Hollywood movie. Especially action. However, in the beginning of the film, we have a beach party scene with plenty of bikini clad girls and ogling teen guys.
Romance is tame. Sarah and John genuinely care about each other and share two on screen kisses. Their relationship seems built on more than just teenage passion. There is also a couple depicted making out in the background of a scene.
The violence in the movie will be a big hindrance for most people. The movie had a dark undertone similar to the undercurrent of Lord of the Rings. Mogadorians get plenty of on screen violence, their lust to destroy, maim, and kill fuelling most of the violence in this film. In the first scene of the movie we see number three and his protector brutally killed.
Mogadorians also relish forcing a bladed ball down a man’s throat and watching it “play with him”. There is a reference to the police finding their mutilated bodies (not seen). These tattooed, gilled aliens also knock out a police officer, throw someone into a second-story window, and stab another man in the chest.
John packs quite a lot of Sci-Fi damage into his frame, too. He angrily hacks through Mogadorians, stabbing, slicing, shooting and blowing them up with many legacy gifts. John’s violence is tamped down by the fact that the Mogadorians turn into ash instead of bleeding like humans.
Two Lorian creatures engage in an intense battle, ending with one of them getting their throat ripped out after being stabbed several times by the other creature.
On the milder side of violence, John gets into a few fights at school, all three of which are in defence of someone else. The first time we see yet another display of the Jocks attacking Sam, the school underdog. John throws a football back at the jerks with superhuman ability, knocking one of the kids over. The second time, John goes a little further. When he and Sam have a cruel joke played on them, the Jocks once again give the angry Sam a shove. John removes Sam from the equation and invades Sarah’s ex’s space. Muscles flexing, he allows himself to back down for the sake of blending in. The final time Sarah and he are the targets of an attack, and John losses himself in rage, sending three of the kids to the hospital and almost breaking the arm of the quarterback. Sarah stops him, bringing him back to his senses.
Six is one of the most threatening forces in the whole movie. Armed to the teeth, Six has a bone to pick and a point to prove. She’s just as bad boned as the male legacies and has striven to advance in her training. She is a leather clad action hero with long blond hair, the attitude of a pit-bull, and an “I can do better” theme as her essence. She takes down several Mogadorians, shoots guns with red light beam cartridges, torches a bungalow, and looks down on John’s attachment to the sweet Sarah. Six also makes a slang reference to male and female anatomy after she forces John to hit her in order to recharge.
Other negative aspects of the film are a grotesque Halloweenish hayride filled with fake skewered heads, a chainsaw wielding massacreer, and a disgusting operation scene. To help John escape, someone from school steals a piece of evidence from the police and Sam chooses to run away from his guardian (not that we like the abusive stepfather).
Wrapping Things Up
All in all the movie was a fun ride, but the negative elements are pretty stacked up. While it is not family friendly, mature audiences may enjoy the film. It has some good themes, good acting, solid plot, and fun dialogue. The negative elements, unfortunately, outweigh all of that. If violence does not bother you, then the only big issue with the film is the language. This is not a movie I regret seeing, but it is one I would caution certain viewer to carefully consider.