Adapted from the New York Times’ best selling novel of the same name, “I Am Number Four” attempts to build a franchise on a story surrounding John Smith (Alex Pettyfer), an alien teenager from the planet Lorien. After his planet’s destruction by the Mogadorians, he and eight others were shipped off to Earth with their guardians (John’s Henri played by Timothy Olyphant). For reasons unexplained in the movie, the Loriens have to be killed in sequential order, and with the first three dead, John is next.
Assuming their new identities, John and Henri leave Florida behind in an effort to stay under the radar in Paradise, Ohio. As expected, this just isn’t possible for John as he meets a new friend, the nerdy and helpless Sam (Callan McAuliffe), and a girl, his love interest Sarah Hart (Dianna Agron), both of which put him on the bad side of the stereotypical high school jock (Jake Abel). John is pushed into heroics to defend them and his problems only multiply as his powers begin to develop.
Sarah and John’s budding romance makes up the first half of the movie and the lack of chemistry between the two leads just asks for the audience’s eyes to glaze over. Despite the attempts of sweetness, there’s no real buildup between the characters and one is left to wonder when and why they fall in love.
The action picks up in a big way as the showdown at the high school approaches. Despite their attempts to create big bads, the Mogadorians (led by Kevin Durand) are a laughable threat. Physically they’re intimidating enough, and they get moments of violence just to prove they’re dangerous, but someone got the idea to let them open their mouths and that goes out the window, making them completely hokey. There’s also no rhyme or reason to their presence and we get no sense of their motivations for wanting the Loriens dead. However, complete with big guns and strange flying dragon/squirrel type creatures, they’re dead set on killing Number Four.
Though we get quick glimpses of her throughout the film, Number Six (Teresa Palmer) finally bursts onto the scene at the high school, ready to take down the Mogadorians. While John has only just begun to control his abilities, Six is an expert and leads the way in the battle, taking down multiple Mogs along the way. It’s here that the bang of the movie finally makes its way to the screen, and while it’s certainly fun to watch, the explosions are over soon enough, and we’re still only left with a bland storyline.
As far as performances go, no one was amazing, but none of the characters were exactly multi-layered, either. Agron does not go beyond anything we haven’t seen from her on “Glee.” Olyphant handles Henri well, but he’s also underused and there was a missed opportunity of creating a solid and meaningful relationship between his character and John. As cool as it was to see her kick ass, it would have been better to see what Palmer could do beyond the sass and swagger of Six. McAuliffe was a good surprise in the movie with his comedic timing and he’s one to watch. Pettyfer offers nothing particularly special, but he should have no problem fitting into the teen heartthrob mold that “Twilight’s” Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner have set the standard for. Overall, “I Am Number Four” attempts to be two things at once, but fails to capture the heart of a romance and the complete excitement of an action flick.