Netflix has been full steam ahead with new content, including big budget films. The latest on their roster is “Code 8”, an action sci-fi heist film in a world where super humans are treated like, well, minorities and illegal immigrants. While I’m usually up for sci-fi, what also attracted me to this film was Stephen Amell (Garrett), the Green Arrow lead, who ends up playing second fiddle to his younger brother, Robbie Amell (Connor), the star of the film.
The opening credits tries to detail the realities of this world. It goes by too quickly, a rapid and disjointed snapshot, not fully explaining how those with superpowers become exiled from society when once upon a time, they were favored. Frankly, “The Incredibles” did it better. “World War Z” is also another good example where the rundown of the existing universe of the film was explained concisely. I just mention those to say, there are references for opening credits exposition that definitely should have been looked into.
Connor is a level five electric (which basically means he’s super powerful with electricity emanating from his body), who works crappy side jobs in construction. He needs money to get his sick mother (also a super) chemo for a brain tumor. He falls into illegal activity when he crosses paths with Garrett, another super who’s found alternative means to make money.
As usual with heist films, something goes sideways, and the protagonist has to figure out a plan B or C. I think there’s even a plan D in this film, which is fine. The effects are solid, the action is good, and the characters are likable.
What niggled in the back of my mind, however, was the metaphor of the supers being minorities. The leads are white, and the minority characters are eventually sidelined (or worse). Except for one, Nia (Kyla Kane), who is basically a junkie held prisoner by a drug lord.
I watch films like this for the fun of it — who doesn’t love a good heist movie, or action flick (when well done)? But it was hard to ignore the metaphorical implications here to the point where it was distracting for me. The difference between this and the other Netflix vehicle “Bright” starring Will Smith, is that the lead character was a Black male, and perhaps that made the metaphor of mistreated minorities (orcs, in that case) more palatable.
But, I’m not a casual watcher of film and cinema. The average person, however, is, and I therefore think that “Code 8” is something that can be enjoyed by many. Especially during this time when movie theaters are becoming a sad, distant memory. Hopefully theater companies will wisen up and bring back drive-ins, and make use of their empty parking lots.