With so many stories being brought to the screen involving either good or evil superheroes and the powers they posses it was inevitable that film makers would look for alternative tales within the genre. In Code 8 the focus is on people with extraordinary powers. But instead of heroes and villains we get to view them in a very relevant and timely way.
Lincoln city, the setting for the movie, was built on the sweat and effort of people with poses. Once fully up and running the authorities instigated a backlash against the very people at he core of the city. They were marginalised to the point of unable to get decent jobs, no hope of careers and have become the people to avoid by normal society. Conner is one such individual. Working on construction sites as a day labourer and not getting close to a permanent job leads him into the world of crime in order to pay the bills and try to find some extra cash to help his sick mother. As he embarks on a couple of low level jobs, his talents harnessing electricity take him deeper into more lucrative work which in turn becomes more dangerous.
There is such a clever opening sequence to the film. Instead of using the first ten to fifteen minutes giving us background to the world, we get everything we need to know in terms of world building during the opening credits. Through news footage the history of Lincoln city is explained. Tis works in terms of an exposition dump and it also frees up time for character development and building a strong story.
Connor as a character is a representation of the world we are entering. He has abilities based on electricity but doesn’t realise the full potential of what he can do. His mother made sure that he didn’t rely on them growing up and instead instilled a sense or right and wrong. This decision by the film makers provide a way for the audience to see him developing while he has his eyes opened to the world around him. Again, a smart use of time and story.
The way the powered people are represented obviously draws parallels with the way that immigrants are being treated in first world modern society today. They are seen as beneath regular people and as such are treated poorly by authorities and ‘normal’ people. They are shown to be exploited in the way they are left without hope of steady jobs and the only value they appear to have is in what is flowing in their veins. Part of the story focuses on Psycke, a chemical extracted from the spine of the powered which becomes a powerful drug that users can’t get enough of. Their only use is in what they provide and not who they are.
Why the film works is relatively straightforward to explain. It has a good cast of well known actors, all of who know how to command the screen and impose their acting style onto characters that may read as being one dimensional on the page. The script is tight with little in the way of extraneous side plots to distract you. it also makes full use of its Sci-Fi basis in order to tell a tale that is essentially a crime drama.
Code 8 may get a smaller release or may get snapped up by one of the streaming service. No matter what, this is something to look out for.