Code 8 is a 2019 science-fiction crime thriller that popped up on Netflix as “newly added.” When I saw it starred Stephen Amell (“Arrow”) and his brother, Robbie Amell (“Upload”), I decided to give it a watch.
This film is based on a short film the Amell brothers released in 2016, also called Code 8. An Indiegogo fundraising campaign was launched, eventually raising $3.4 million to make this long form version.
Code 8 is set in a current time on an alternate Earth, when some people are discovered to have superhuman powers. The government, of course, decides to pass a law requiring all “Powers” (as they’re called) to register their abilities.
Connor Reed (Robbie Amell) is an “Electric” (he can manipulate electricity), and his mother Mary (Kari Matchett), a “Cryo” (cryokinetic), has brain cancer which causes her abilities to sometimes act erratically.
Reed works as a day laborer, and his mother a store clerk, trying not to reveal their powers. But when his mother is fired, and the day jobs dry up, he is enticed into to working jobs for Garrett Kelton (Stephen Amell), a telekinetic who runs a crime ring made up of other “Powers,” to make the money he needs for his mom’s medical treatment.
When a drug called Psyke causes a war between Garrett’s boss, crime lord Marcus Sutcliffe, and his boss, Wesley Cumbo, Garrett gets the idea to undercut both of them and grab the street business for himself.
Meanwhile detectives Park (Sung Kang, in a nice unexpected appearance) and Davis (Aaron Abrams) are hot on everybody’s trail.
Code 8 is ambitious for a low-budget self-financed film. It’s an interesting premise, and the special effects are simple but effective.
The issue lies in the plot, which despite the sci-fi element, plays as an average crime drama about drug gangs. The dialogue is also a bit clunky, featuring little in the way of actual conversations. More cliches and clipped lines. And the ending feels a bit truncated, like they had to find a way to wrap it up.
It’s actually a pretty good indie effort, but I’d only recommend it if you’re a fan of the Amells.
I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.
Director: Jeff Chan
Cast: Robbie Amell, Stephen Amell, Sung Kang, Kari Matchett, Aaron Adams
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