Code 8 was released in 2016 as a short film but after an online fundraising campaign which aimed to earn $200,000 to cover the costs for a full-length feature instead scored upwards of $2 million, the project was off to the races. Now, it arrives in Los Angeles theaters this Friday before being released elsewhere and On Demand on December 13th. The question is, does the finished movie do all those paying fans justice? Well, we’re pleased to report that this is one crowdfunded effort which both exceeds expectations and should leave moviegoers hungry for more.
Set in a world where a small percentage of the population is imbued with “superpowers” of varying degrees, Code 8 follows Connor (Robbie Amell) as he’s forced to take drastic measures to make the money his terminally ill mother needs for treatment. That leads to him crossing paths with Garrett (Stephen Amell), an ambitous criminal who is either Connor’s new best friend…or possibly the worst thing that’s happened to him.
The reason we say that is because perhaps the most fascinating thing about this movie is that it deals in shades of grey rather than delivering the traditional “hero vs. villain” dynamic you’d expect from the genre. Avoiding many of the tropes we’ve come to expect from films featuring characters with powers, Code 8 definitely delivers something new and makes some bold creative decisions as a result. With a stellar opening credits sequence that establishes this world and its history, it’s hard not to wish for a slightly longer runtime (it’s a scant 98 minutes) which would have allowed the movie to delve into that a little more. There’s nothing wrong with the very personal story we get, however, but a few more minutes might have also allowed for an ending which doesn’t wrap up quite so qucikly because while it’s a satisfying journey, it feels like the closing moments could have been a tad stronger.
That’s what sequels are for, though, and it would be amazing if one were to happen as there are clearly more stories to be told with both these characters and the world it’s set in.
Chris Pare’s screenplay is strong and with some excellent direction from Jeff Chan, Code 8 feels like a movie that cost considerably more than it probably did. Visually, it looks great and the special effects, action scenes, and score are all top notch. While there are no capes or massive battle sequences, it will still get your heart racing and if you’re looking for an exciting 90 minutes that will leave you with plenty to talk about, you’ll be very happy indeed. This isn’t your typical “direct to DVD” movie and it never feels cheap, poorly made, or, most crucially, badly acted. The supporting cast is good but understandably don’t deliver work quite as strong as what we see from the two Amells as they’re both awesome and The Flash‘s Robbie Amell steals the show in a star making performance. Stephen, meanwhile, is every bit as great and proves that he has a lot more to him than being a certain Star City superhero. Kari Matchett also deserves a special mention as Connor’s mother and it’s refreshing to see such a strong mother/son relationship on screen.
An investment that definitely paid off, Code 8 is a thrill a minute must-see that delivers a fresh take on superpowers and features a scene-stealing performance from Robbie Amell.
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