“Code 8” is a “mutants” movie in everything but name, cast and backing studio.
No “Marvel,” no Hugh Jackman and frenemies. Just a lesser known cast in a very familiar scenario, people with “special powers” resented, discriminated against with lots of opportunities to go wrong.
Impressive production values and decent performances justify wanting to watch it, a story with no real new ideas and poor pacing may make you regret the decision.
In Lincoln City, those with “powers” used to be valued and beloved. But that was long ago, when the place was being built, when “The Incredibles” were still in theaters.
Now, they have to have a permit to do anything, even though people with “TK” (telekinetic), “pyro” (fire-fingers), “electric” (lightning bolts), mind-reading and “healer” and the like “gifts” once were handy to have around.
Connor (Robbie Amell from “The Duff”) has a sick mother who works, when she shouldn’t. He has to get by with day labor in construction, and that only lasts until the cops show up — with their robocop “Guardians” (delivered by giant drones) — to check ID.
The tech here, BTW, is almost A-picture level. “Caps off, chins to the sky!” The drone has facial recognition software, among other gadgets, to figure out who has “power” and who has outstanding warrants.
But one day Connor gets into a power company van with a tough crowd inside of it, and finds himself aiding and abetting robberies — “Cut the (electrified) fence. Short out the car alarm.”
Garrett (Stephen Amell) pushes Connor around, but he pays well — when HIS boss (Greg Bryk) pays him, that is.
And big boss Marcus has The Trust to worry about. They’re over his head.
Connor is trapped in the middle of all this, like Nia (Kyla Kane), Maddy (Laysla De Oliveira) or even the stone-cold killer Copperhead (Sarah Hoedlmoser) and everybody else.
Garrett endures being put through “tests,” lots of late night meetings and increasingly violent heists — apparently rounding up the raw materials for the hip street drug of the moment — “psyke.”
I know that drug name, if not that spelling of it, has been used in at least one other movie I’ve reviewed. But as the rest of “Code 8” is pasted together from earlier scripts, whatever.
It’s not a particularly quotable script, in any event — recycled “Normal people have always hated us” and the like.
The bad guys are more interesting than the good ones, the heists — including an armored car — are generic.
And The Guardians are a somewhat interesting variation on “a guy in an armored suit playing a robot” thing.
It’s not terrible. There’s nothing to work up a moment’s hate about. But “Code 8” is more interesting looking than actually interesting, more a sharp prospectus for a movie than one that actually makes great use of its design and ideas, fresh or recycled.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, violence, drugs, profanity
Cast: Robbie Amell, Kari Matchett, Stephen Amell, Greg Bryk and Kyla Kane
Credits: Directed by Jeff Chan, script by Chris Pare. A Vertical/Netflix release
Running time: 1:38