Code 8 (2019 film)
|Directed by||Jeff Chan|
|Screenplay by||Chris Pare|
|Story by||Jeff Chan|
|Based on||Code 8 (2016) short film|
|Edited by||Paul Skinner|
|Music by||Ryan Taubert|
|Distributed by||Elevation Pictures|
Code 8 is a 2019 Canadian science fiction action film written and directed by Jeff Chan, about a man with superpowers who works with a group of criminals to raise money to help his sick mother. The film is a feature-length version of the 2016 short film of the same name. A sequel, Code 8: Part II, is set to be released.
This section's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (May 2020)
In the early 20th century, the public becomes aware of people with superhuman abilities, known as Powers, resulting in the government passing a law requiring all Powers to register their abilities. They quickly become a key component of the economy, notably in constructing Lincoln City as the "City of Tomorrow". As the Third Industrial Revolution begins, Powers are marginalized in the face of increasing mechanization, leading to severe prejudice as they become second-class citizens. By the 1990s, a crime syndicate known as The Trust has flooded the streets with an addictive drug called Psyke, made from the spinal fluid of desperate or trafficked Powers. Police departments begin using advanced drones, named Guardians, and facial recognition software to combat Power-related crime while a city-wide Powers ban is debated.
Connor Reed, a 26-year-old Class 5 Electric (electrokinetic) looks after his mother Mary, a Cryo (cryokinetic), who has brain cancer that causes her abilities to sometimes act erratically. As Powers, they cannot afford the treatment she needs. Connor makes ends meet by working as an unregistered day laborer alongside many other Powers, using his abilities to install electrical wiring without protection. While on a job, the police arrive and order the workers to disband and a Pyro (pyrokinetic) is killed when attempting to flee arrest. Elsewhere in the city, a drug raid is conducted by detectives Park and Davis on an apartment complex owned by crime lord Marcus Sutcliffe, the local agent of The Trust and a Reader (mind reader). Almost $1 million worth of product is seized, putting Sutcliffe in conflict with Wesley Cumbo, his superior in The Trust who demands their expected cut in a week's time. Reed is approached by Garrett, Sutcliffe's underling and a TK (telekinetic), and his crew for a job. Despite warnings from a fellow worker, Reed goes with them and participates in a chemical theft, shorting out the electric fence in an impressive show of power. Reed is introduced to Sutcliffe and meets Nia, Sutcliffe's supposed girlfriend. Park and Davis arrive on the scene the next day and determine that Sutcliffe is using the chemicals that were stolen to cut his remaining product, indicating he is desperate for revenue.
Garrett recruits Reed, recognizing he has untapped potential, and agrees to help him earn enough money to get his mother treatment. He begins training Reed on how to use his abilities and uses him as an enforcer in the Psyke trade. Reed also grows close with the members of Garrett's crew, including Freddie, a mute Brawn (super strength), and Maddy, Garrett's girlfriend and a Pyro. Sutcliffe has the crew rob a bank in order to pay back The Trust, but the vault only contains $50,000. Cumbo's Shifter (shapeshifter) assassin Copperhead attempts to kill Sutcliffe for not honoring his debt, but Sutcliffe's bodyguard Rhino, a Brawn with bulletproof skin, manages to kill them. Reed is injured in the scuffle and Nia reveals that she is a Healer, and only remains with Sutcliffe to ease the effects of his Psyke addiction in order to pay a debt.
Reed's mother confronts him about the stash of money he has been making working with the crew. She suddenly convulses and Reed rushes her to hospital, where the doctor tells him they will need to operate soon to remove her tumor. Park and Davis bring Reed in for questioning, encouraging him to cooperate as they have already confiscated much of the Psyke on the street, weakening Sutcliffe's influence. Davis advises they plant evidence in order to coerce Reed into informing, while Park is adamant that they cut him loose due to lack of evidence. Reed is released and goes to Garrett to suggest they raid the scheduled Psyke Run, the monthly transport of seized product for destruction, which will be worth approximately $10 million. Garrett and Reed bring the idea to Sutcliffe, where Reed demands Nia heal his mother as payment and Garrett stipulates he will become a partner in running the Psyke trade.
On the day of the heist, the crew blocks the truck while it is inside a no-fly zone, preventing back-up by drones that carry Guardians. Reed shorts out the truck's electronics and they manage to destroy the Guardians on board the truck. As Maddy hands off the Psyke to Rhino, Sutcliffe's men execute the officers protecting the truck and turn on the crew, killing Maddy and mortally wounding Freddie before he, Garrett and Reed manage to escape. Rhino flees with the drugs while the drone pilot disregards the no-fly zone and drops additional Guardians into the area, killing the rest of Sutcliffe's men. Freddie dies as Reed and Garrett drive away. Reed tells Garrett that Sutcliffe betrayed them because of Garrett's demands, and they part ways. Davis and Park's captain is furious that Reed was not arrested before the heist, and demands they bring in those responsible. Park visits his daughter, a TK Power, who is afraid she will be given away because she is struggling to control her abilities. Reed contacts Park and offers up Sutcliffe's hideout. The cops raid Suttcliffe's hideout while Reed and Garrett seek revenge at his escape route. After killing Rhino and Sutcliffe, Garrett takes the Psyke for himself and encourages Reed to force Nia to heal his mother. Nia pleads with Reed to let her go, as her abilities do not just heal people, but force her to take the injury or disease onto herself, meaning she can die if she attempts to heal his mother. Reed takes Nia to the hospital at gunpoint, but finally tells her to stop after he sees how painful the process is for her. Reed shares a tearful goodbye with his mother before she dies.
Reed drives to the police station and gives Nia his truck in order to leave the city. Garrett hands over the Psyke to Cumbo and takes over the drug trade for The Trust in Lincoln City. Reed visits his mother's grave before he goes on the run, while Nia has a tearful visit with her father in prison, whose debt she was paying off with Sutcliffe. Meanwhile, the Powers Ban is being voted on due to the heist while Park reluctantly accepts an award for the raid against Sutcliffe.
- Robbie Amell as Connor Reed
- Stephen Amell as Garrett Kelton
- Sung Kang as Officer Park
- Kari Matchett as Mary Reed
- Greg Bryk as Marcus Sutcliffe
- Aaron Abrams as Officer Davis
- Kyla Kane as Nia
- Laysla De Oliveira as Maddy
- Vlad Alexis as Freddie
- Peter Outerbridge as Wesley Cumbo
- Shaun Benson as Dixon
- Alex Mallari Jr. as Rainer
- Ess Hödlmoser as Copperhead
- Jeff Sinasac as Officer Kuwabara
In 2016, Robbie and Stephen Amell released a short film, Code 8, which acted as a teaser for a potential feature film. An Indiegogo fundraising campaign asking for $200,000 was launched on March 23 and reached $2.4 million by April 24. Fundraising closed with $3.4 million on December 31, 2019, with the continued campaign helping recover costs of DVD pressings and the distribution to contributors of perks, wardrobe and props from the production. The closing credits scroll of the film included four minutes to run through a list of just some of the 30,810 contributors to the fundraising campaign.
The first announcement of additional cast came on June 12, 2017, when Laysla De Oliveira was cast in the film.
On February 9, 2017, during the Berlin International Film Festival, XYZ Films acquired the international sales rights for the film. The film was released theatrically on December 13, 2019. The film was released on Netflix in the United States on April 11, 2020.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an approval rating of 80%, based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. On Metacritic, the film received a score of 48 out of 100, based on 5 critic reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Dennis Harvey of Variety found the crowdfunded Code 8 a "solid genre effort" that "is resourceful and polished on a tight budget". He noted a few limitations, for example a screenplay that "packs in a lot of characters and complications without much time to lend them distinguishing personality", not enough humor to transcend the "sentimental cliché" of a mother needing medical treatment, and a "lack of stylistically bold elements in the competent action sequences". He nevertheless thought the film a "well-crafted mix of crime melodrama and fantasy" with "generally strong" performances from its actors, and visual effects that "present a plausible near-future", and that this feature represents an "impressive leap in scale" from Chan's 2014 debut film. Noel Murray of Los Angeles Times considered that while the movie has "clearly been made with passion and intelligence", the "ideas outpace the action" and it was made "without the kind of zip that this kind of story demands".
In April 2020, the film appeared on the Top 10 Netflix list for the United States.
In December 2019, a short-form spin-off series starring Robbie and Stephen Amell, written by Chris Pare, and directed by Jeff Chan was announced in development at Quibi. Following the announcement that Quibi is shutting down, the series has been left in limbo.
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