Engaging and authentic, Code 8 is a smart science fiction movie painting a much more realistic picture of the superhero world. Made on a really tight budget ($2.5 million) raised through crowdfunding, it looks fucking amazing. If I didn’t know better I would think its budget is at least thirty mill. The camera work is stellar and special effects believable. Actually, this lack of money, although it cannot be seen, forced the filmmakers to focus on the story. However, the thing that blew me away about this movie, is the worldbuilding. It’s so fucking good and juicy. It’s like The Boys without the humor. Or, even better yet, Canadian take on District 9. And I will top off this name dropping with Freaks starring Emile Hirsch and Bruce Dern. I still haven’t seen it, but I tried and gave up for unknown reasons.
Code 8 highlights the grittiness of the world we live in and the sense of aching injustice. It’s really close to neo-noir but the justification of these criminal acts was just a tad melodramatic. Especially towards the end. Everything else is just perfect from the sleazy and immoral characters to neon-lit locations. Fuck it, I’m calling it neo-noir. This is also not only a movie set in a near dystopian future but it’s also a heist movie! Yes, you’ve read it right, it features a couple of heists although the main story remains firmly focused on Connor’s plight. Confidently led by Robbie Amell’s subdued but strong performance, the cast was good and believable. I especially liked Sung Kang as Agent Park and can’t wait to see him in the upcoming Star Wars-themed tv show Obi-Wan Kenobi. Also, I’m sure fans of the Arrow will appreciate seeing Stephen Amell.
After taking advantage of the Powers, people with supernatural abilities for decades and using them to build the cities while paying them a pittance, humanity has discarded them without pity. Now, they are second-class citizens who have to register their powers and have very limited options for work. We meet Connor Reed, a man who can control electricity with ease, in front of a non-descript building looking for any kind of work. His mother is very sick and he needs the money desperately. So, when a group of shady individuals offers him hefty compensation for some illegal work, he accepts. He accepts not knowing that this will put him on a path to hell.
I still can’t get over just how good they built the world. Something that’s not surprising because a television show is in plans. The atmosphere is immersive and engaging as we’re learning more and more about how things work in this fucked up world. And although we’re talking about the future here, things aren’t much different now. Especially in the great US and A. This gives Code 8 the edge it needs turning it into a crime thriller that works well even without any science fiction elements. With them, however, it’s just freaking too cool. Whenever you need to have that wow moment you just let loose those huge drones carrying killer robots called Guardians. You can feel the whole atmosphere change and get incredibly intense. With a runtime of just over ninety minutes, this is a short and sweet affair.
Finally, if you’re looking for similar movies check out Project Power and Bright. Both of them feature a similar setting and even some aspects of the story are the same. And if you liked the killbots, you might want to check out another effective indie science fiction movie Monsters of Man.
Director: Jeff Chan
Writers: Chris Pare, Jeff Chan
Cast: Robbie Amell, Kari Matchett, Jai Jai Jones, Alex Mallari Jr., Sung Kang, Aaron Abrams, Stephen Amell
Fun Facts: The title Code 8 apparently is short code for “Robbery in progress” or similar.