By Seth Lukas Hynes
Starring Robbie Amell, Stephen Amell and Greg Bryk
Code Eight is a compelling, tightly-written sci-fi drama with an innovative take on superhero tropes.
In an alternate America where people with superpowers are an oppressed underclass, Connor (Robbie Amell), a young man with electrical powers, turns to a life of crime to support his terminally ill mother.
Code Eight builds strong tension through its intriguing world-building and layered conflicts: Connor is driven to crime out of love for his mother, but slowly compromises his morals, while crime lord Sutcliffe (Greg Bryk) is desperate to pay off his ruthless superiors.
The film indicates that superpowered people are now mistreated after industrialisation rendered their abilities obsolete, which is an ingenious in-universe justification; the convenience of technology made everyday people devalue a group they once depended on.
The narrative contains clear objectives and some very effective foreshadowing, and the risks and rewards escalate as Connor commits further to Sutcliffe’s crime ring. The third act is structured around a bold heist and its shocking aftermath, but the film generates deeper suspense from whether Connor can hold onto his honour.
The only major issue in Code Eight is Psyke, an addictive drug derived from the spinal fluid of superpowered individuals. Psyke is the material force driving much of the plot, but the morbid, invasive nature of its creation is rarely addressed.
Code Eight has excellent tension and character writing, and is available for streaming on Netflix.