A man caught between the conflicts of good and evil must make the right decision in order to save his dying mother.
If director Neill Blomkamp made a superhero movie, this would be it.
The opening credits set the world-building quite well. Though a bit speedy, it showcased through modified newsreels, there being superpowered beings coming to rise in the 20th century. One got nice context of how these people started off as good, hardworking folk, but evolved into those struggling with poverty, class, and racism. All due to automation/over-reliance on tech.
In the first act, the film highlighted those factors when the Supers were working in low paying jobs, trying to obtain a job, or getting money by dangerous means. One detail mentioned in the opening credits was a drug that can be harvested from the spines of Supers. Whether they were being held against their will or they voluntarily wanted to be harvested, in order to get money, is all speculation.
Some people would say “Unbreakable,” is the most grounded superhero movie. If there was a film one step or two above that, “Code 8” is that. The Supers displaying their powers were fairly realistic and plausible to some degree.
When it came to the main character, when he shot electricity, it wasn’t a lightning bolt shooting out. But it was like static electricity, small streams of sparks coming out. For the villains’ right-hand man, the “tank,” he withstood bullets but the force of each one still seemed to have some effect. The healer girl had an interesting yet tragic power where she transferred the pain/injury of any individual onto her. Taking cues from “Logan,” the main character’s mother had a condition where her ice power was losing control. All of these things made the superhero world in the movie somewhat realistic in an intriguing manner.
Performances throughout were fine. The main character, Connor, and his mother were the best in terms of acting and their relationship. The villain was bland. The Garrett character was bland and his posse doesn’t really have enough screentime for one to know them. Nia, the healer, had the devasting power that made one feel kind of sorry for her. But the film doesn’t give a backstory of any kind, just a hint or so sprinkled throughout and at the end.
The pacing was where I had a lot of problems. Because of this, things like characterizations and motivations were put to the sidelines. The montage between Connor and Garrett was crucial in setting up a bond but it went by quick. It was a shame because both actors are related in real life. There was definitely something there with Officer Park and his kid, but there was hardly anything to gravitate toward in that scene. Which I guess might be explored in a sequel if it ever comes.
The social commentary was touched and explored some, but I wished there was a little more. It was refreshing to see Connor NOT hook-up with Nia. This played back into the realism that the film was going for. In the end, Connor goes to the police to say the truth and serve his time responsibility.
“Code 8,” a movie with interesting concepts in its world-building and offering a unique/realistic take on superheroes. Would I want to see a sequel? Sure, but it needs to do better on the acting, characters, pacing, and add a little more social commentary. Otherwise, I say check it out. It’s not bad. I would also say watch the short film that this was based off, “Code 8.”
YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures