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“Code 8: Part II” Movie Review, Live Streaming & Download

Code 8 part ii 2024 (via Primetweets)

Released in the spring of 2020, Jeff Chan’s anti-police sci-fi action film “Code 8,” produced and starring cousins Robbie and Stephen Amell, flew mostly under the radar, despite its timely themes. Although a sequel series fell apart with the collapse of Quibi, the franchise has found new life with a Netflix-backed sequel. Like its predecessor, “Code 8: Part II” uses its high concept sci-fi to critique the increasing violence of the militarized police state, especially in the age of surveillance. 

Set five years after the events of the first film, Robbie Amell plays Connor, a small-time crook just out of prison. Stephen Amell plays Garrett, the drug kingpin Connor partnered with in an ill-fated attempt to save his dying mother. Both men are Powers, the title given to the 4% of the fictional Lincoln City’s population who have superpowers. These residents are treated as second class citizens, kept in poverty, and heavily policed. 

The first film looked at how this disenfranchised reality forced many “powered” people to either hide their abilities or turn to a life of crime to survive. Their powers have also been used to create an addictive drug called Psyke, which is derived through their spinal fluid. Trafficking and deals made with the corrupt cops ensue. 

In that film, Connor’s story collided with the good-hearted Officer Park (Sung Kang), whose eyes were opened to the corruption inherent in the police system in which he served. “Part II” seeks to further examine this corruption through the ambitious Sergeant “King” Kingston (Alex Mallari Jr.), who has instituted a new robotic K9 program (clearly inspired by the NYPD’s creepy robot dogs) to replace the more violent robotic “Guardians” that had been killing powereds indiscriminately in the previous film. He’s also got his hands in the Psyke business as well. 

King tries to ingratiate the K9 robot cops with the community through a block party, introducing them to a unit named Piper. Although the K9s are designed to contain, not harm, when one unit kills one of Tarak (Sammy Azero), Garrett’s runners, we quickly see that they can indeed be commanded by a human officer to kill. So does Tarak’s fourteen-year-old sister Pavani (Sirena Gulamgaus). A transducer, Pavi is able to disrupt and disable the K9 unit, and transmit its incriminating video, proving the cops have lied about their non-violent solution for keeping peace in Lincoln City. 

Of course, this means King wants her dead and Connor must team up with Garrett in order to keep her safe. There’s more twists and turns, as Garrett continues to try to play both sides between his drug business, helping his community, and keeping the cops at bay. Although the conflicted Officer Park doesn’t appear in this installment, his partner Officer Davis (Aaron Abrams) does. His role here is deeply underwritten and the positioning of him as an ally to Connor and co., sends a mixed message in terms of what the film thinks about the police. Is this a case of one bad apple gumming up the system, or is the whole system irredeemable? As the film barrels towards its inevitable climax, the answer to that question remains unclear.

Part of the problem is that the plotting is not as tight as the first film, which was penned solely by Chris Paré. Here he shares writing credits with Chan, Sherren Lee, and Jesse LaVercombe, and there may well be too many cooks in the kitchen. However, Chan’s visual world-building remains sharp. The whole film has big, dilapidated Rust Belt vibes, from the rundown community center where Conor works as a janitor to the greasy spoon diner where he meets up with Garett. Everything here is gray and cold and bleak.

The action sequences remain cheesy, but fun, with both Amells having committed deeply to the bit, as they move objects at their will or harness the power of lightning with complete seriousness. One sequence featuring a powered named Tamera (Jessica Allen) who can erase memories is a particular standout in terms of mood and tension. Connor’s boss Mina (Jean Yoon), who can repel bullets, is also a welcome new addition. 

Unfortunately, where the first film found a healthy balance between its heist plot and the human moments between Connor and his mother, “Part II” can’t seem to find the time to actually sit with these characters so that we care about them and the lives they are trying to lead in spite of all this heavy policing. Every conversation is in service of another plot point here, a piece of exposition there. The brothers do their best to add depth to the proceedings but are just not given enough time to let their characters breathe. A twist towards the end regarding King comes out of nowhere, revealing an added critique of assimilation over community that I wish had been more thoroughly explored earlier. 

While it is admirable that “Code 8: Part II” aims to take the militarized police state to task—and copaganda films themselves—its final sequence hinges on the idea that revealing damning footage of corruption and state sanctioned violence can actually lead towards punishment of the officers involved, and reforms to the system itself. If the last four years have taught us anything, it’s that neither of those things are true. I don’t know if it says more about the state of the world itself or the quality of film that the most unbelievable thing about it is that a city would ever defund its police in favor of funding a community center. I don’t know. Maybe that’s just the kind of hopeful speculative fiction we need right now. 

On Netflix now.

Code 8 Part II movie poster

Code 8 Part II (2024)

Rated R

100 minutes

Cast

Stephen Amellas Garrett

Robbie Amellas Connor Reed

Alex Mallari Jr.as King

Sirena Gulamgausas Pav

Jean Yoonas Mina

Aaron Abramsas Davis

Moe Jeudy-Lamouras Cirelli

Natalie Licontias Maev

Jane Moffatas June

Director

  • Jeff Chan

Writer

  • Jeff Chan
  • Chris Paré
  • Sherren Lee
  • Jesse LaVercombe

“Code 8: Part II” Movie Review, Live Streaming & Download Movie Review, Live Streaming & Download

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