Courtesy of Netflix
What started out as a short film in 2016, has now become one of the breakout films in the age of COVID-19. The brainchild of Jeff Chan (the director of the full-length film) and Chris Paré, as well as cousin duo Robbie Amell (The Flash) and Stephen Amell (Arrow), Code 8 was able to amass 5.9 million views on Youtube and raise $2.5 million to create a fresh take on superhero enabled characters that is carried on the shoulders of the Amell cousins.
In a not so distant alternate future, 4% of the population are superpowered enabled, or “Powers” as they are referred to by the rest of society. Connor Reed (Robbie Amell) is an Electric, who struggles with caring for his Cryo enabled mother because his father was killed trying to rob a convenience store to try to provide for his family. Connor starts to go down the same path as his father when he is approached by Garrett Kelton (Stephen Amell) to help on a job for a local crime boss. Connor is sucked into the world in an attempt to save his critically ill mom and decide how he wants to use the gifts provided to him.
The overall explanation of Powers is vague at best. While each enabled person has a specific skill typed, signified by Electric, Cryo, Pyro, etc. like they are Pokemon types, each person has a varying amount of strength in their power. This isn’t explained well at all, only to tell you that Connor is a Class 5, supposedly the highest level you can be and very rare. Yet, very few characters refer to what Class they are, leaving the audience without a base level understanding of what Powers look like except for at their most extreme. Even Nia (Kyla Kane), a seemingly powerful Healer who befriends Connor, is never given or says what Class level she is. Without this information, her character is potentially stripped of the recognition she deserves for being the most powerful Healer in the country, or her potential for becoming that powerful.
This is the part where I have to come clean. I am a huge Arrow fan. I hopped on the bandwagon midway through Season 3, but was immediately sucked into the tales of Oliver Queen, and subsequently Barry Allen in The Flash. For those reasons, I was introduced to Code 8 very early on and was interested to see how it would turn out. While it sounds like I am being an Amell homer, Stephen and Robbie are what make the movie work overall. Stephen brings his trademark gruffness into every scene and establishes Kelton as a formidable ally to Robbie’s Connor. Similarly, Robbie channels a good, but desperate, Connor who is struggling to come to terms with what he is capable of doing. The pair bring a level of experience lacking from the majority of the rest of the cast and elevate the movie to its full potential.
While a few subplots and supporting characters might not rise to the level of the Amell’s, this simply cannot be said for Sung Kang’s (The Fast and the Furious) Detective Park. While he investigates and closes in on the wrongdoings committed by Connor, Park must also wrestle with the knowledge that his own daughter has Telekinetic powers. Kang brings humanity to these scenes and makes you question how you would handle the situation he is in as his world continually condemns people like her.
These are the types of storylines I am excited to see continued on in the short form series being developed for Quibi, which was announced in late 2019. Just like the full-length film was able to successfully build off the groundwork laid by the short film, the series is being passed a baton with an even more established world and characters thanks to Code 8.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Quarantine Day: Day 5 watch. Readily available on Netflix and should be one of the first you watch, behind Tiger King of course.