REVIEW: ‘Code 8’ offers low-key superhero thrills

Robbie Amell as Connor Reed in 'Code 8.' (Image supplied)
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Updated 19 April 2020

REVIEW: ‘Code 8’ offers low-key superhero thrills

  • Writer/director Jeff Chan manages to find an original angle on superhero films

LONDON: It doesn’t seem like there’s much room left in the superhero sphere for any truly novel takes on the genre. So while Canadian sci-fi movie “Code 8” might not be reinventing the wheel, exactly, writer/director Jeff Chan does deserve some credit for wringing an ounce of originality from an otherwise overcrowded creative space.

In a world where four percent of the population have developed superpowers, such gifted individuals have proven integral to the genesis of the USA industrial complex, only to be discarded by society when increasing levels of automation relegates the so-called ‘Powers’ to second-class citizens.

Forced to scrounge for undocumented work, and trafficked for narcotics derived from their spinal fluid, the world has turned against the likes of Connor Reed (Robbie Amell) — a simple guy trying to make enough money to take care of his sick mother. With an increasingly oppressive society clamping down on Powers through the use of omnipresent flying drones and sinister robot soldiers, Reed takes more than his fair share of licks before, predictably, sticking two fingers up at the world and throwing in with a group of suitably charismatic and diverse criminals, headed up by Garrett Kelton (Stephen Amell), a mid-level mercenary who spots electricity-wielding Reed’s untapped potential for bank jobs.

Equal parts heist flick, gangster movie and superhero film, “Code 8” manages to hit all three marks pretty well. Though his movie clocks in at a modest 100 minutes, Chan manages to paint a vivid, gritty criminal underworld, while Robbie and Stephen Amell (paternal cousins off screen) bring suitable levels of naivety and cynicism to their respective characters.

Perhaps the most noteworthy element here is Chan’s restraint. The film’s sparing use of CGI and sprawling set pieces may have been, in part, due to penny pinching (the movie was funded by an Indiegogo campaign), but it actually serves to underscore the story’s portrayal of just how dangerous the world is for Powers — superhuman abilities are not something to be used in public, and those showing off their gifts tend to fall foul of the all-seeing government.

While the plot twists and double crosses are relatively easy to spot, that shouldn’t detract from what “Code 8” has to offer: an interesting world, decent performances and, unusually for films of this ilk, a favoring of substance over style.

Moroccan actor Youssef Kerkour receives BAFTA nomination

Youssef Kerkour is nominated for Best Male Comedy Performance for his role as Sami Ibrahim in the comedy series “Home.” (Instagram)
Updated 04 June 2020

Moroccan actor Youssef Kerkour receives BAFTA nomination

DUBAI: Moroccan actor Youssef Kerkour has landed a nomination for the 2020 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), the academy announced on Thursday, after the awards were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The actor, who grew up in Rabat, is nominated for Best Male Comedy Performance for his role as Sami Ibrahim in the comedy series “Home.”

Kerkour, who is also known for roles in “Dracula,” “Redemption,” “Criminal” and “Marcella,” took to Twitter to thank his supporters. 

“Thank you all for your lovely messages this morning. It is a tremendous honor to be nominated in such stellar company,” the 41-year-old actor said.


La famille MAISON @channel4 #home #season2

A post shared by Youssef Kerkour (@youssefkerkour) on

The series, created by British writer and actor Rufus Jones, follows a middle-class London family who find a Syrian asylum seeker named Sami (Kerkour) hiding in their luggage while returning from holiday in France.

Kerkour’s tweet also paid tribute to Jones. 

“I must however say that there is a name missing IMO (in my opinion). That name is Rufus Jones. His writing will give you nominations,” he wrote.