The latest science-fiction thriller to drop on Netflix, Code 8 was a surprisingly entertaining film, and it isn’t just the quarantine talking.
Code 8 is the latest in super-powered humans doing bad things for good reasons films. The film written and directed by Jeff Chan has a number of things going for it. The leads, the Ammell cousins, Stephen(Arrow) and Robbie(The Flash) are easy on the eyes and legitimate genre stars. They both have a long list of science fiction series and movies under their collective belts including The Tomorrow People, ARQ, and The Vampire Diaries. Although familiar ground, the script is well written, acted, and paced to keep the viewer engaged and the effects aren’t cheesy. It also happens to be on the largest streaming service during a global quarantine.
It tells the story of Connor Reed who falls in with a drug gang in a desperate attempt to earn money to save his sick mother. Code 8 looks like an angsty low-budget X-Men but finds footing in a more grounded crime drama. Full of the same emotional heart and societal questions of other superpower movies there isn’t a cape in sight. That’s a good thing. straight forward and earnest it’s worth the hour and a half run time. All that being said there are a number of questions that beg to be answered. Here are all those nagging things explained.
What Is A Psyke on Code 8?
Psyke is a drug derived from the spinal fluid of PWP’s that is highly addictive and has taken hold of PWP’s. Those PWP’s desperate enough to sell their spinal fluid are exploited and harvested for payment. Similar to the illegal human organ trade. It is developed by The Trust, a powerful and organized crime organization. They are essentially Pablo Escobar on steroids. It produces a high similar to Heroin only with the additional danger of rendering the user incapacitated, which is a massive problem for powered individuals. This drug syndicate has made PWP’s look even more criminal even though they are the ones most exploited by the drug. The leader of The Trust in Lincoln City is Marcus Sutcliffe.
What Are PWP’s?
The crudely named PWP’s are just an abbreviation for People With Powers. Anyone with a special ability is labeled a PWP and classified into the many sub talents within that heading. In the allegorical presenting Code 8, they are stand-ins for immigrants. PWP’s were once valued members of society, but since automation advancements have made them unnecessary, they are instead shunned. The opening credits indicate we have known of their existence since at least World War II. They are persecuted and feared for their ability and accused of taking jobs from typically abled people. They are also charged with starting a considerable drug epidemic. That drug is Psyke, as mentioned above.
They are forced to register and highly monitored by large guardian drones equipped with facial recognition. The subcategories of PWP’s include Electrics who can manipulate electricity to both absorb and weaponized it. Healers obviously heal wounds and illnesses, Telekinetics(TK’s) move things with their minds like Carrie, Cryos manufacture and control ice, Shifters change appearances, and Pyro control heat. Finally, Readers predictably read minds, and Brawn provides super strength muscle. In the film, Vlad Alexis plays Freddie the Brawn, Laysa De Oliveira plays Maddy the Pyro, Kyla Kane is Nia the Healer, Greg Bryk as Sutcliffe the Reader, Kari Matchett the Cryo and Connor’s Mom, and the Ammell’s as Garrett(Stephen) the TK and Connor(Robbie) the Electric.
The Code 8 Ending Explained
Basically, most of the bad guys are dead, and Connor has turned himself into a reluctant Detective Park. Reed, along with the rest of Garret’s crew, manages to successfully steal all the Psyke seized earlier, which Garrett turns over to Cumbo and becomes the leader of the drug trade in Lincoln City. Marcus Sutcliffe betrayed Garrett’s crew when he felt as if Garrett was becoming too demanding. His crew was collateral damage in the conflict between Garret and Sutcliffe and Sutcliffe and his superior inside the Trust, Cumbo.
Cumbo threatened Sutcliffe when he couldn’t deliver the lastest shipment of Psyke due to police seizure. Garrett’s overture was made at a terrible time. It is doubtful he would ever be accepted as an equal, but especially not when under the kind of pressure Sutcliffe was right then. Sutcliffe attempted to eliminate Garrett’s entire crew during the drug heist. He was not entirely successful. The remaining crew members along with Detective Parks, who Reed told about Sutcliffe’s hideout, killed him and his bodyguard. With Sutcliffe out of the way and Psyke in hand, Garrett becomes the de facto king.
Reed tries to force Nia to heal his Mother but realizes it is cruel to make her try to heal his Mother for several reasons. One, it would kill Nia in the process, and two, his Mother would never want to be cured that way. She was a moral person who would be guilt-ridden and disappointed in Connor. Realizing this, he turns himself in. The Powers ban is being voted on prompted by the heist. There are proponents on both sides. There are those who believe the PWP’s could be helpful and harmful in preventing future crimes like this. If Lincoln City is anything like our current paranoid society, the heist will only serve as further proof that PWP’s are dangerous and should be controlled and watched at all costs.
For those looking for an indie sci-fi drama Code 8 will fit the bill. Crowdfunded after the short of the same name in 2016 was well-received. The full length-length feature provides plenty of thoughtfulness and just enough action to capitalize on a starved for content crowd. More gritty crime drama with superpowers than action it hits a sweet spot channeling both categories. You can catch it on Netflix right now for free or streamers like Amazon Prime and Vudu for a fee.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.