While choosing movies to see at the recent vacation, I ran into a sci-fi action film "Code 8" and regretted not watching it earlier. One reviewer has called it "X-men for adults", and this is quite a precise definition.
"Code 8", directed by Jeff Chan and written by Chris Parer, explores the topic of the "non-heroic superheroes", following the tradition launched by Watchmen and The Green Hornet. However, the superhero/supervillain tale is given under the new angle: people with superpowers don't threaten or save humanity any more (though initially they honestly wished to serve the society). Pyromants, metamorphs, telekinetics, and other "persons with abilities", as they are called on the film, become outcasts, feared, despised and discriminated for what they are.
The society treats people with superpowers as if they were carrying plague: the mass paranoia has cut them from nearly any source of honest income. Those who wish to be accepted, go to great lengths to hide their gift or hide their own kids. Since our days, the state has grown even more controlling and invasive but hasn't overcome such problems as poverty, drugs and organized crime. It's quite natural: the more authoritarian the state gets, the better the criminal bosses feel.
The storyline is quite simple: Connor Reed, a young electrician who can power a light bulb by a touch or cause a local blackout by a mental effort, struggles to sustain himself and his dangerously ill mother, as no one wants to hire him legally. He witnesses his fellows in misery get killed by police androids but doesn't yet know how to resist.
Desperate to find the cure for his mom, the young man joins a burglar gang which pays surprisingly well. Now he has a strong incentive to develop his superpower instead of concealing it. However, soon Connor becomes a target for the police and gets involved into the inner conflicts of the criminal world...
First, I loved the concept and the setting. The creators seem to deliberately have made its world resemble ours as much as possible, adding some futuristic details such as macabre battle robots, and this works well for the idea. The relations between Connor and his mom first resemble those of Arthur Fleck and Penny from "Joker" but prove much healthier and add a warm note to the overall darkness of the story.
Second, I appreciated the impressive acting of Robbie Amell (Connor), Greg Bryk (Marcus, the criminal boss to which Connor's gang reports) and Sung Park (Agent Park). All of them contribute a lot to the viewer's immersion, making us believe their rage, love, (dis)trust, fear or pain.
Why won't I watch "Code 8" more than twice? The writing, though overall logical, does not surprise. You won't see any vertiginous twists which you could expect from such a movie. It will not leave you pensive for days to come and does not contain any strong lines which you will eagerly quote in your conversation. This is why I consider "Code 8" a decent work but not an outstanding one. Shall I recommend it to science fiction lovers? Certainly.