Tell me if you’ve heard this story before. A good kid, growing up in a rough neighborhood, can’t seem to catch a break. He works odd jobs to help his mom, who happens to be sick. So sick that he resorts to means that he would have otherwise ignored. It’s a storyline as typical as the burnt-out cop at the end of his rope. And it’s also Conner Reed’s story, the central character in Code 8.
The world of Code 8 is one we’ve seen before. People born with superhuman powers, relegated to the bottom of society based on their differences. Many find it hard to work and survive. Of course, it wasn’t always this way. People with powers were crucial elements in building the country. Until automation made hiring these people more costly to the bottom line. And what are people with no hope but unlimited potential to do? Some will turn to crime, which is why the government invented various tactical equipment to keep people with powers in line. Others scrape by, working construction jobs for less and minimum wage. When we meet Conner, our journey into blandness begins.
Conner, as we described earlier, is just a good guy trying to help his sick mom. In his journey to help her, he meets Garrett, a criminal with dreams of something bigger. Garrett attempts to help Conner understand the depth of his powers, except his Mr. Miyagi moment, never reaches its destination. Two botched heists and Conner is no closer to mastering his abilities than he started. Speaking of power, we have to talk about the lack of it on display.
We live in a world post-Avengers. Shooting sparks from your fingertips is no longer acceptable. The powers in Code 8 never match the perceived threat, and over-policing we see from local law enforcement. The drones and robots are overkill against a threat that never materializes. And it’s the lack of defined powers that hurt the movie. I can deal with a mediocre story if the action scenes pick up the slack. But they don’t, and leaving us with a film that’s neither great nor terrible. It’s just average, and that is damming in itself.