Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Code 8 (2019)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Code 8 (2019)
Genre: Action, Crime Drama, Sci-Fi
Length:  98 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Colony Pictures, Vertical Entertainment, Digi-Optic Films, Defiant Screen Entertainment, Elevation Pictures, Koch Films
Director: Jeff Chan
Writers: Chris Pare, Jeff Chan
Actors: Stephen Amell, Robbie Amell, Sung Kang, Kari Matchett, Greg Bryk, Lawrence Bayne, Jai Jai Jones, Alex Mallari Jr., Shaun Benson, Aaron Abrams, Martin Roach, Matthew Gouveia, Laysla De Oliveira, Vlad Alexis, Simon Northwood, Peter Outerbridge, Sarah Hödlmoser, Kyla Kane, Max Laferriere, Merwin Mondesir, Casey Hudecki, Jeff Sinasac, Chris Handfield, Natalie Lisinska, Emma Ho

Blurb from IMDb: A super-powered construction worker falls in with a group of criminals in order to raise the funds to help his ill mother.

Cat’s Point of View:

I can’t tell you how excited I was when Code 8 landed on Netflix.  I have been looking forward to watching this movie since the same-titled proof-of-concept-short hit Indiegogo in 2016.

For the sake of full disclosure, I freely admit that I am a die-hard fangirl of the Amell cousins: Stephen Amell (Arrow, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Vixen: The Movie) and Robbie Amell (The DUFF, ARQ, X-Files). Needless to say, this project hit my radar quick when they launched their campaign. I devoted an article to this successful crowdfunding project. (If you like, you can read it here.) 

As a TL;DR summary, between the original and follow-up campaigns, the film raised $2,404,740.00 with 28,400 backers. Sadly, my budget at the time did not allow me to be one of them – but Selina was able to contribute. (I have been jealous of her early-access DVD.)

All that aside, I feel that I can still provide a generally unbiased view of this movie. I do like to look for the bright side when I can, but I still try to call it like I see it – even when I’m a super-fan. 

In this case, I'm happy to say they succeeded in making a really solid blend of sci-fi and crime drama with Code 8.

The production team really got a lot of bang for their bucks with the police drones and android enforcer guardians. When those land, you really do get a sense of bulk and weight – and scary emotionless firepower. The effects for individual powers were also well done. I’m very happy that they went the route of subtlety where possible, and I’m giddy about how the eye-effects turned out.

I’ve seen so many critics rag on the film that it’s some sort of X-Men knockoff. I’m a bit irked by that sort of comparison. It feels lazy to me. This isn’t a comic adaptation. It’s an original story full of grit and moral dilemma. It’s got ‘mutants’ by way of evolved humans with special abilities – but it’s not trying to be part of the super-squad genre at all. These aren’t superheroes or supervillains – they’re regular people faced with discrimination and injustice and forced to make decisions accordingly.

I am going to say something that makes me wince to admit, but it was a little dry in some places. I didn’t feel the usual zing I get with this talented cast through the entirety of the movie. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was. Also, I feel that part of it could be a personal cognitive dissonance, considering the personalities of the characters vs. the personalities of the actors behind them. The cast was really on point in their roles, so don't hold that against them.

Perhaps it was the fact that the film followed the crime-drama recipe rather closely so that it was generally predictable. I like to be kept guessing – but following a recipe isn’t always a bad thing. It didn’t do the film a disservice here, I likely did that to myself with over-active expectations for the movie. Honestly, though, these are observations made because I feel the need to look at this more clinically to balance out my inner fan-girl.

There were fantastic characters that also could have gotten a little more rounding-out, but that’s something that can likely be addressed in the future. It’s open enough that there certainly could be a sequel. That seems to be coming in the form of a Quibi spin-off series, announced on December 10, 2019. The Amells are slated to return to reprise their roles. I’ll be crossing my fingers that they can get Sung Kang (Live Free or Die Hard, Fast & Furious 6, Power), too. I really want to know more about his character’s story specifically.

When all is said and done, I would recommend this movie for 2 reasons. The first is simple, it’s a good movie and well-grounded in its world and characters. The second is out of support for grassroots filmmaking of fan-backed projects. The more views this film gets, the better others will fare in its wake with future projects that seek production similarly. This shouldn’t be lightning in the bottle – but if it was, I’m glad to have been even a small part of that. (Sharing the campaign counts, too, okay?)  

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 73%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 66%
Metascore – 48/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.1/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13

Movie Trailer:

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