By Darren Chan Keng Leong (Singapore)
Code 8 starts with the premise of a small percentage of humans with extraordinary gifts in the fictional Lincoln City, which are similar to that of the X-Men series and Chronicle film. These humans are referred to as “special” but they are treated as outcasts in the cities and humans are shown to fear them. We are also introduced to different types of “special” such as an electric and healer. The film shows the interesting dynamics between actors, and real life cousins Robbie and Stephen Amell, who plays Connor Reed and Garrett. Another intriguing fact is that Robbie and Stephen have acted in the television series Arrow. The film has some grittier moments such as having some violent scenes, but what is lacking would be the dialogue between the characters and the special effects.
In a typical police-detective plot, the film opens with Connor Reed comforting his mother who is also a “special” that she will find a cure for her as she is dying of cancer. The police has resorted into deploying robots called “Guardians” in drones to patrol the city to deter crime and clamp on a drug ring that is peddling psyke, which is illegal around the city. Connor struggles to make end meet as the police is also clamping down on specials in the city, and are arresting those that display powers in public.
The dialogue between the characters are not exciting as they sound like regular banter and the only good part was watching Robbie interacting with Stephen Amell because they have that chemistry both on-screen and off-screen. The film also has some form of ambiguity such as Connor’s mother has blue sores when she is sick, and this is never explained in the film as to why she is afflicted by it. Dialogue with the other cast members are also dry and there is little character development, which is a shame as the film, feels like it is rushing to a predictable end. The premise of pyske is never mentioned and the reasons for its high market worth, this is an angle that is worth exploring if Code 8 gets a sequel or prequel in future. Even Agent Park as portrayed by Sung Kang of The Fast & Furious who goes to tracking down Connor and Garrett, his relationship with his daughter who has powers are never given any context also. These would leave viewers more confused due to the plot holes that should have been addressed.
In all fairness, Netflix had picked up Code 8 that meant that the film had potential given the storyline of good versus evil. I would have liked the final film act, where Connor and Garrett confronts the film’s big bad, Marcus Sutcliffe played by Greg Bryk, where they use their powers should have been longer and more exciting. This could be used to explore their potential range of their abilities such “specials” and the writers Chris Pare and Jeff Chan did try to add a grittier angle to the storyline, and I felt that this did justice for Robbie and Stephen because they had portrayed superheroes before, which meant this film was right up their alley. Code 8 is an average sci-fi film, but there are potential to maximize Robbie and Stephen’s performance post-Arrow and plots to be explored, and viewers are sadly left with more questions than answers in this film.